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How to live longer: 7 tips on health and happiness from Centenarians

How to live to 100? That is the big question. Is it luck? Good genes? Two glasses of red every night? No one has a straightforward answer, but plenty of people wish they did. There are so many contributing factors: genes, health, diet, careers, lifestyles, exposure to pollutants, chemicals, too many Kardashians, too many bad jokes – there are all sorts of reasons why some of us give up the ghost sooner than others.

Whatever our odds, those that have made the grade have some undeniably excellent tips on how to live longer and how to live a happy life. In a recent book, “Celebrate 100: Centenarians and Secrets to Success in Business and Life”, more than 500 centenarians were surveyed, resulting in quite an interesting read, with some of the best tips provided below.

1. Be positive!
Almost all elderly individuals interviewed stated that a positive (but realistic) outlook was imperative to long term health and happiness. If asked to describe themselves, they would describe themselves as an “optimistic” person.

2. Faith
Faith may be a difficult subject for those who are happy with their status as agnostic or atheist. Of course, no one is suggesting you should take up religion to live longer. But, it’s well documented that religious beliefs can be calming, and life-extending for many people. Further, it gives many a sense of purpose – a reason to get up in the morning (in case paying the mortgage and getting the kids to school isn’t enough). It can also help people to endure hardships – another key to a healthy, happy life.

3. Family life
Many in the study reported on the joy that the interaction and closeness with family provided and the importance this had to their health and happiness. As time marched on, they enjoyed their roles as parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles. They enjoyed the sense of connectedness that family life brings, along with the love and care reciprocated.

4. Diet
Certain centenarians offered an absolute gem of dietary advice for living to 100: eat like it’s 1960!

Back in the 60s portion sizes were smaller, plates were smaller, and people didn’t pick up takeaway every second night on the way home, as many do today. Essentially, people ate less. The simplicity of this concept may leave many floundering because there’s no Jenny Craig, no calorie counting, no military style workouts – and you don’t even have to go gluten-free.

Food for thought: for health and happiness, eat less!

Back in the day, there were no service stations lined with a wall of chocolates. And when you could find chocolates to purchase, they didn’t come in king-size value packs, with a free soft drink thrown in. Worth thinking about, isn’t it?

5. Get moving
Yes, exercise was certainly cited as a strong contributing factor to how to live longer by many interviewed. Maintaining exercise regimes regularly, such as stretching or calisthenics routines, along with frequent walking or cycling were common activities mentioned. Some centenarians acknowledged that they took up exercise later in life, and were chuffed to report that they had competed in events such as senior’s games, marathons or senior’s swimming groups.

6. Healthy living to 100
There’s always some wise-nut that’ll tell the tale of their uncle that smoked two packets of cigarettes and drank a bottle of bourbon every day for 70 years straight and still managed to live a long happy, healthy life. But there are always exceptions to every rule (and people who love to exaggerate). Many centenarians cited their how to live longer secret as being clean living: a healthy diet, regular exercise, little to no alcohol, no smoking, and as one man put it, try to “just stay out of trouble”.

7. Pick the right parents
Health tips from centenarians - Sage Institute of Aged CareGenetics does have a bit do with living longer; so chances are, if your parents (and their parents) have lived a long time, this will give you an approximate 10% chance of living longer, too. So, fear not, if your parents had both died young, the odds are still in your favour, and you’ll be happy to know that many centenarians interviewed reported the same.

There are boundless recommendations for the pursuit of living a long life of health and happiness. Many swear by daily naps, an extra day off a week, good sleep, fish oil, reducing salt intake, maintaining hobbies, staying connected with others – the list goes on. One of the most delightful outcomes of the study came in the resounding sentiment from many of the interviewees. Just like finally climbing to the peak of the mountain, they say that after living to 100, the view is wonderful, and it’s worth the effort.

Sage Institute of Age Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.

Vicki Tuchtan

Vicki Tuchtan

Vicki Tuchtan is the Academic Director at Sage Institute of Education. She oversees learning processes, teaching outcomes, resources and course development. A passionate advocate for bettering standards of training in Australia, she is currently writing her PhD thesis on defining quality training in the Australian vocational education sector.
Vicki Tuchtan

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