Hitting the Century Mark

November 03, 2010

Currently there are about 75,000 people over 100 years of age in the United States, almost three times as many as in 1980. In fact, centenarians are the fastest growing age group and that number is expected to double every decade. We can look forward to at least one million centenarians by 2050! Having parents who live to a ripe old age increases your chances to reach 100... but habits are important as well.
  • Exercise. Researchers tracked approximately 2,400 male doctors over the course of 25 years, beginning at an average age of 72. Participants who exercised two to four times a week (and did not smoke while maintaining normal body weight and blood pressure) had a 54 percent chance of living to 90. Those who did nothing had only a 4 percent chance of reaching 90.
  • Watch your weight. There is an important caveat to the expectation that the general population's lifespan will increase -- obesity. Many researchers point to obesity as the primary factor that may force them to recalculate their predictions. Recently, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois suggests that the U.S. lifespan could drop two to five years over two generations because of obesity.
  • Stay mentally active. Like an active body, an active brain continues to develop and thrive, while an inactive brain loses its its strength and agility.
  • Get the proper amount of sleep. It's widely accepted that sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems. Surprisingly, a recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that sleeping too much can also reduce life expectancy! The researchers found that study subjects who sleep between six and seven hours per night lived the longest.
  • Socialize. Remaining socially active helps people maintain physical, intellectual and mental health.
  • Enjoy life. People with a positive outlook on life suffer from less stress, helping them remain healthier longer.
Hitting the century mark is well within reach... it's all in how you go about getting there!

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