Live to a Hundred


One of the biggest factors that determines how well you age is not your genes but how well you live. Not convinced?

A study published in 2009 in the British Medical Journal of 20,000 British folks shows that you can cut your risk of having a stroke in half by doing the following things: being active for 30 minutes a day, eating five daily servings of fruit and vegetables, and avoiding cigarettes and excess alcohol.

While those are some of the obvious steps you can take to age well, researchers have discovered that centenarians tend to share certain traits in how they eat, move about and deal with stress—the sorts of things we can emulate to improve our own aging process.

Of course, getting to age 100 is enormously more likely if your parents did. Still, Thomas Perls, who studies the century-plus set at Boston University School of Medicine, believes that assuming you’ve sidestepped genes for truly fatal diseases like Huntington’s, “there’s nothing stopping you from living independently well into your 90s.” Heck, if your parents and grandparents were heavy smokers, they might have died prematurely without ever reaching their true potential lifespan, so go ahead and shoot for those triple digits.

Follow these 11 habits and check out Perls’ lifetime risk calculator to see how long you can expect to live.

1. Don’t Retire

“Evidence shows that in societies where people stop working abruptly, the incidence of obesity and chronic disease skyrockets after retirement,” says Luigi Ferrucci, director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. The Chianti region of Italy , which has a high percentage of centenarians, has a different take on leisure time. “After people retire from their jobs, they spend most of the day working on their little farm, cultivating grapes or vegetables,” he says. “They’re never really inactive.” Farming isn’t for you? Volunteer as a docent at your local art museum or join the Experience Corps, a program offered in 19 cities that places senior volunteers in urban public elementary schools for about 15 hours a week.

2. Floss Every Day

That may help keep your arteries healthy. A 2008 New York University study showed that daily flossing reduced the amount of gum-disease-causing bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria is thought to enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation in the arteries, a major risk factor for heart disease. Other research has shown that those who have high amounts of bacteria in their mouth are more likely to have thickening in their arteries, another sign of heart disease. “I really do think people should floss twice a day to get the biggest life expectancy benefits,” says Perls.

3. Move Around

“Exercise is the only real fountain of youth that exists,” says Jay Olshansky, a professor of medicine and aging researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago . “It’s like the oil and lube job for your car. You don’t have to do it, but your car will definitely run better.” Study after study has documented the benefits of exercise to improve your mood, mental acuity, balance, muscle mass, and bones. “And the benefits kick in immediately after your first workout,” Olshansky adds. Don’t worry if you’re not a gym rat. Those who see the biggest payoffs are the ones who go from doing nothing to simply walking around the neighborhood or local mall for about 30 minutes a day. Building muscle with resistance training is also ideal, but yoga classes can give you similar strength-training effects if you’re not into weight lifting.

4. Eat a Fiber-Rich Cereal for Breakfast

Getting a serving of whole-grains, especially in the morning, appears to help older folks maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day, according to a recent study conducted by Ferrucci and his colleagues. “Those who do this have a lower incidence of diabetes, a known accelerator of aging,” he says.

5. Get at Least Six Hours of Sleep Each Night

Instead of skimping on sleep to add more hours to your day, get more to add years to your life. “Sleep is one of the most important functions that our body uses to regulate and heal cells,” says Ferrucci. “We’ve calculated that the minimum amount of sleep that older people need to get those healing REM phases is about six hours.” Those who reach the century mark make sleep a top priority.

6. Consume Whole Foods, Not Supplements

Strong evidence suggests that people who have high blood levels of certain nutrients—selenium, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E—age much better and have a slower rate of cognitive decline. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that taking pills with these nutrients provides those anti-aging benefits. “There are more than 200 different carotenoids and 200 different flavonoids in a single tomato,” points out Ferrucci, “and these chemicals can all have complex interactions that foster health beyond the single nutrients we know about like lycopene or vitamin C.” Avoid nutrient-lacking white foods (breads, flour, sugar) and go for all those colorful fruits and vegetables and dark whole-grain breads and cereals with their host of hidden nutrients.

7. Be Less Neurotic

It may work for Woody Allen, who infuses his worries with a healthy dose of humor, but the rest of us neurotics may want to find a new way to deal with stress. “We have a new study coming out that shows that centenarians tend not to internalize things or dwell on their troubles,” says Perls. “They are great at rolling with the punches.” If this inborn trait is hard to overcome, find better ways to manage when you’re stressed: Yoga, exercise, meditation, tai chi, or just deep breathing for a few moments are all good. Ruminating, eating chips in front of the TV, binge drinking? Bad, very bad.

8. Live Like a Seventh Day Adventist

Americans who define themselves as Seventh Day Adventists have an average life expectancy of 89, about a decade longer than the average American. One of the basic tenets of the religion is that it’s important to cherish the body that’s on loan from God, which means no smoking, alcohol abuse, or overindulging in sweets. Followers typically stick to a vegetarian diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts, and get plenty of exercise. They’re also very focused on family and community.

9. Be a Creature of Habit

Centenarians tend to live by strict routines, says Olshansky, eating the same kind of diet and doing the same kinds of activities their whole lives. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is another good habit to keep your body in the steady equilibrium that can be easily disrupted as you get on in years. “Your physiology becomes frailer when you get older,” explains Ferrucci, “and it’s harder for your body to bounce back if you, say, miss a few hours of sleep one night or drink too much alcohol.” This can weaken immune defenses, leaving you more susceptible to circulating flu viruses or bacterial infections.

10. Stay Connected

Having regular social contacts with friends and loved ones is key to avoiding depression, which can lead to premature death, something that’s particularly prevalent in elderly widows and widowers. Some psychologists even think that one of the biggest benefits elderly folks get from exercise the strong social interactions that come from walking with a buddy or taking a group exercise class. Having a daily connection with a close friend or family member gives older folks the added benefit of having someone watch their back. “They’ll tell you if they think your memory is going or if you seem more withdrawn,” says Perls, “and they might push you to see a doctor before you recognize that you need to see one yourself.”

11. Be Conscientious

The strongest personality predictor of a long life is conscientiousness—that is, being prudent, persistent, and well organized, according to The Longevity Project, co-authored by Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin. The book describes a study that followed 1,500 children for eight decades, collecting exhaustive details about their personal histories, health, activities, beliefs, attitudes, and families. The children who were prudent and dependable lived the longest, Friedman says, likely because conscientious types are more inclined to follow doctors’ orders, take the right medicines at the right doses, and undergo routine checkups. They’re also likelier to report happier marriages and more satisfying work lives than their less conscientious peers.

From: Goh KK


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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17 Responses to Live to a Hundred

  1. Pingback: Healthy Diet Tips For Graceful Aging | Healthy Diet Report

  2. agongkia says:

    I dun believe in whatever study or research made and whatever 11 habits mentioned to live up till 100.These will have no effect on people like me.
    I am one who believe in paying attention to women and beoing Char Bor .The more Char Bor I see,the more active I will be and the more younger I will feel.I still feel that I am 18 years old.Even when I reach 100 years old,my mind is still 18 years old,so long as there are beauties around to beo.
    What is the point of living up to 100 years old and only got attracted to one or 2 beauties.I have not reach 100 but have admire countless numbers of beauties.
    Common sense already tell me that I already outlive those centenarians.
    Sorry,that’s my belief.

  3. Your belief is curiously interesting. You life it seems to me revolve around women. Even if you live till 100 yrs, you still can’t change your habit. Maybe you were an emperor in your previous few lifes? Ancient emperors alway surrounded by women. That’s why most of them died quite young. Wish you all the best.

    • agongkia says:

      You still haven’t understand why those people landed in Court.Because they share the same belief.Getting involve with those below 18 will make them feel as young as 18 ,even they are in their 50s.Someone ever say so,mixing around with the intelligent will make you intelligent .Mix with daft will become daft.Mix and get involve with teenager will make one live like a teenager.Same logic apply.

      • OK! I got it. Mixing with young ppl will make u feel young, mixing with retards will make u like retard! But pls don’t nix with under 18 yrs old girls in Sg or u will spend time behind bars. You do it at your own risk. Do it outside Sg where it’s safer. It’s the rule of the game. Wish you success.

  4. patriot says:

    Study and research aside, gene is one most important aspect to ones’ well-beings physically, medically, mentally, emotional and spiritually.
    The Chinese worship ancestors, avoid marriages within the clans all in respect to the family tree. Here is my PERSONAL take about the genetic trait of human and for that matter all living beings. Admittedly there are no research and science involved in my understanding, what me writes here are observations.

    Especially about the Chinese Race that me belongs to; most if not all should have got to know the traditional make-up of a Chinese family. The elders invariably want to have healthy and successful successors long before even their children think of marriages. So, the wish for procreation of successor sets in long before they(successors) were conceived. Once the lady is pregnant, the Chinese go into great length to ensure the health and safety of the mother and baby in her womb.

    When the baby is born, other than the great care given, the joy and happiness that comes from he/her is overwhelming. It is then follow by nurture (feeding/grooming/education) or shall we call it upbringings. When the baby grow up to be healthy in body, mind and moral, he/she is likely to be normal, meaning not sickly, intellectually weak and emotionally feeble. This will set the foundation for the next succeeding generation. But, IF the said Being is affected by his parents or even grandparents in bad habit, poor health and upbringing and or in cases marriages within too close relatives, succeeding generations are likely to be negatively affected.

    Bless oneself to have healthy, better still successful ancestors and do better than them IF You can, YOUR SUCCESSORS will be proud of You!

    Me appreciates this thread by Gintai, just that me thinks ‘retirement’ has to be better defined and how the Seven Day Adventists have fared as a collective community has to be comprehensively disclosed. How they distinctively better than others in living and in longevity??

    How are Genetic Influence and Traits defined? Does it includes nurture or is it confine strictly to the physical make-up of the human body?


    • Patriot,
      Thks for sharing your knowledge. Your ideas and perceptions though without modern scientific backing could be compared to ‘old wifes’ tale’ based on generations of pass down practices and rituals which are proven as far as you see it.

      However, I believe in the totality of the make up of a human being. Your theory of longevity is based on solid primary upbringing starting at the mother’s womb. Tonic and care given to the baby in the womb. That continues with the birth of the baby during the formative yrs and so on till adult. It’s common sense to have a solid foundation early in life so that the body life span could prolong and last longer.

      However the genes also plays a major role as recently revealed. Scientists have recently mapped out our human genome where the genetic code is revealed. We could even pinpoint defective genes etc You can’t deny that we inherit good and bad genes from our forefathers. What we are and how we behave are more or less locked up in our genes. Color of our eyes, skin, features etc are inherited from genes. We can never have blue or green eyes cuz our forefathers didn’t have. So it’s the same with some of our sickness etc. That is why doctors always ask if your family got any diabetes, heart problems etc etc

      Other than genes living a simple less stressful life and do not drink or eat in excess with ample rest are also factors. Take care of your body. Do not abuse your body then it will serve you well. Just like a car. If you maintain and service your car regularly it will give you more mileage and longer life span.

      As such, it all boils down to plain common sense. Live a simple life is the key to longevity like those farmer’s in olden times. Avoid lots of sugar, salt or other chemicals like instant coffee or mee etc. In short, there are many factors to take into consideration.

      Having followed the above diligently one must also bear in mind the safety aspect. When we walk or drive we better look out. We don’t want any langgar to happen to us to cut short our life span right?

  5. patriot says:

    You’re absolutely right Sir! Me am just wondering when we talk about genes, are we just talking about the biological make-up(genome)or should we include nurture? Yes! do not smoke, drink, gamble, eat wantonly and f…k around and the World will be filled with pure healthy beings.

    Just bantering, take it easy.


    • No need to live your life like an ascetic lah. Just moderation on all of life’s little indulgences lah. Balanced lifestyle is the key to prolong your lifespan. The Chinese belief in the Ying Yang harmony in accordance with the natural laws of heaven and earth then you will be ok. May you live till a hundred.

  6. SG Girl says:

    Err.. Who wants to live till 100 when (1) most of your friends (if not all) would be dead; (2) your children would likely be dead too and (3) do you have enough cpf money left to eat 3 meals a day?

    • WinkingDoll says:

      There are ways to counter the issues raised.
      (1) Friends: Keep being active in life. Meet and make new friends. More and more of my friends are now younger than (middle-aged) me, some even 20 years younger! I am, in turn, a new friend to some elderly retirees.
      (2) Not so if they inherited your longevity genes, healthy lifestyle practices and of course watch out on the road etc so that they don’t langgar. That said, I don’t have any children, so it is a moot point for me.
      (3) Make enough $ for your own financial independence or migrate to countries where the elderly are better supported.

      I recently nursed elderly who are in their 80’s and 90’s. One 98 years-old lady is still mentally sharper than many young adults and has a positive mindset despite her acute (i.e. short-term) hospitalization. Maybe that she was previously a psychologist helps with preparing her mindset for aging? I don’t know. Nevertheless, having seen how happy healthy aging can be, I am not afraid of growing old.

      p.s. Gintai, I guess you’re aware that your blog, although “private”, is still accessible by entering the URL of specific blog entries.

  7. kinjioleaf says:

    Ape am no doctor or scientist but just to share some personal beliefs
    Genes are like ‘blueprints’. Doesn’t really give you the outcome. Everyone has do called good and bad genes. Scientists are just puzzled what ‘switch on’ the good/bad genes. Lifestyle may be a main factor but very broadly defined. Good nutrients and habits may prevent ‘bad’ genes from turning on. But it seems to ape many people tends to overlook mental well being.
    Ape believe positive outlook towards life is an important attitude to health. A person may drink and smoke but live a long life with no cronic disease. Another may stick to a disciplined, Spartan like lifestyle yet subject to cancer. So ape guess the former views life as it is while the latter takes life too stressfully.

    • Thks for your comments Ape. What about this Chinese saying?


      How to explain the facts above?

  8. Lohcifer says:

    Will you live to a hundred?

    Find out here:

  9. patriot says:

    Happiness is the only thing that matters in living.
    Achievement and achieving long life are secondary.

    50 years of healthy happy living is certainly more
    preferable over 100 years of struggle and grouse.


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