Few segments of the American population are growing faster than centenarians. By 2040, the current U.S. centenarian population of 84,000 (which includes The Bristal at Armonk resident, Marian Henry, who recently celebrated her 107th birthday) is expected to reach 580,000 – a seven-fold increase. With more people living into the triple-digits than ever before, the dream of living longer and aging healthier is alive and well for the active senior. We collected research from the latest studies to bring you seven tips for longevity.
1. Eat a healthy diet.
Experts agree that one of the keys to longevity is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. The staples of a healthy diet include fruits and vegetables (especially the colorful kind), beans, nuts, low fat dairy and whole grains. Eat a good balance of vegetables, meat and fish, avoiding the three main culprits – salt, fat, and sugar. Healthy meal planning for seniors is not just about what you eat – but also how much you eat. Limiting snack foods and desserts will help you consume fewer calories and maintain a healthy weight.
2. Stay positive and happy.
You’ve heard of the power of positive thinking. But how much of aging is all in your head? Perhaps more than you think. In fact, a new study found that older people who embrace positive stereotypes about aging are more likely to recover from severe disability than those who hold negative stereotypes. The lesson? You may only be as old as you feel. So, try to see the glass half full.
3. Stay social and connected.
According to a recent national poll, staying engaged with family, friends and to world and current events is another key to longevity. A comparison between centenarians and college seniors also reveals large majorities in both groups believe an active social life is important for longevity. 82 percent of centenarians studied communicate with a friend or family member daily as a preferred lifestyle choice.
4. Stay fit and active.
The secret to living longer may also be in your waistline. According to Evercare’s 100@100 Survey, lifestyle choices including staying active and taking care of body and soul all contribute to longevity. Nearly half of people over the age of 100 walk or hike once a week. And more than 30 percent get weekly exercise from activities like gardening. Go out there and get active!
5. Learn something new.
Lifelong learning is a proven health benefit. Research shows the healthiest brains are constantly changing, growing and rewiring themselves. Pick up a new hobby, learn a new language, complete a crosswords puzzle, or listen to a lecture – anything to keep your mind active with curiosity and creativity. According to a recent national poll, a growing number of centenarians are learning new media and technologies like Twitter, YouTube, and Skype. Consider using the latest technology to stay sharp and especially to stay connected with family and friends.
6. Stick to healthy routines.
Laugh. Connect. Meditate. Sleep. Stay fit. Get into a habit of getting into healthy habits. According to research on almost 3,000 pairs of twins with identical DNA, genetics impacted human longevity in only 25 percent of participants, while lifestyle choices made up for the other 75 percent. Things within your control can make all the difference. And sticking to healthy routines may be one of the simplest secrets to a long life.
Is it better to give than receive? Probably. According to a new analysis published in the journal Psychology and Aging, volunteering reduced the risk of mortality by 47 percent for participants aged 55 and older. An investment in your emotional health, volunteering helps you grow happier by making other people happier. Most people volunteer to help others but the act of kindness is likely to give you positive feelings, too. The “helper’s high” alone is worth lending a hand.