Wouldn’t we all like to live to be 100 years old?

Whilst there are several factors that affect life expectancy (including genes), there’s no doubt that health and lifestyle are among those that play a huge role. There’s no precise formula to living long. But there are plenty of ways to increase your lifespan and quality of life. Here are some health and life practices that many centenarians incorporate in their daily life.

Top of the list would be to stop worrying. According to Thomas Perls, MD, founder and director of the New England Centenarian Study (which has conducted extensive research on longevity), “part of living to 100 seems to require having the right personality”. Of the centenarians they studied, many scored low in neuroticism. Dr Perls said it means they tend not to dwell on things. Furthermore, centenarians manage their stress efficiently. They don’t internalise stress, which has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and dementia.

Maybe mum was right telling you to eat your greens. Eating vegetables does have a lot of health benefits. Aside from keeping you strong and sharp, it helps flush away the toxins in your body which promote ageing. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet rich in fats and proteins from vegetables instead of meat may help lower the risk of heart disease.

Simply brushing your teeth can have a big affect. Yes, your oral health could be affecting your life expectancy. Scientists at the U.S. Centres for Disease Control found a strong link between dental health problems like gum inflammation and gingivitis and heart disease – the number one killer in the world.

Keeping in touch with friends. Getting old doesn’t have to affect your social life. Social connection is vital to your physical and psychological health. A 1988 study published in the journal Science suggests that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. On the other hand, strong social connections increase our lifespan by 50 per cent, researchers at Brigham Young University have found.

Don’t smoke. Quit if you are already smoking. According to Dr Perls, this deadly habit automatically cuts 15 years off your life! Smoking is among the leading causes of preventable disease. Unfortunately, many people smoke, especially the young ones. The good news is that if you quit at the age of 35, your life expectancy is just slightly lower than those who never smoked. And if you stop at 50, your risk of dying from smoking-related disease would have been reduced by 50 per cent!

Stay lean and trim. You will rarely see obese centenarians. One of the keys to long life is to stay fit and lean. In 2009, researchers at Oxford University found that moderate obesity, which is very common nowadays, reduces life expectancy by about 3 years, whilst severe obesity can shorten life span by almost 10 years. What’s the antidote to obesity? Aside from observing a proper diet, make regular exercise a priority. Even leisure-time physical activity has been linked to longer life expectancy. In a 2012 study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, scientists found that adding low amounts of physical activity in an individual’s daily routine, such as 75 minutes of brisk walking per week, was associated with increased longevity.  Getting active doesn’t have to mean hard work just not being a couch potato.

Don’t skip breakfast. They say it is the ‘most important meal of the day’. Not only does it give you energy for your physical activities, but eating a healthy breakfast may keep your insulin, glucose and cholesterol levels stable, and therefore can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses.

Get ‘enough’ sleep. In 2010, scientists from the University of Warwick and Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy, found that sleeping less than six hours a night could increase the risk of early death whilst sleeping more than 9 hours can also cut down life expectancy. So how much time should you spend on sleeping? We can assume it’s about 7 to 8 hours.

Drink moderately. They say a glass of red wine a day may keep the doctor away. Just be sure you don’t go beyond the recommended alcohol intake. A 2013 study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that people who drink heavily and smoke may show early ageing of the brain.

If you followed these ideas you may strive for a long life but also a happy and healthy life.

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