Lifetime fitness enthusiast Jack LaLanne, who lived to be 96, said it best: “Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.”
Sure, whether or not you live to 100 can have some basis in genetics, but combining a healthy diet, exercise and a fulfilling lifestyle can certainly increase your chances at longevity. Numerous studies have been conducted about centenarians and people who live well into their 90s and there are definite similarities among all of them that play a huge factor. Based on extensive investigations by journalist Dan Buettner and National Geographic, there have even been 5 areas of the world identified as “Blue Zones” in which the majority of the population live to be 90-100 years old. The biggest common denominator? A healthy lifestyle. Let’s delve a little further into these concepts and see what you can do to up your chances of living to 100.
First up: diet. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fiber and whole grains can add years to your life. A study at JAMA Internal Medicine found that vegetarians can lower their risk of premature death by 12% more than their meat-eating counterparts. Eating a ton of fiber can help fight off heart disease, infections and respiratory illness and lower the risk of cancer in men. Adapting a plant-based diet focused mainly on whole foods can add years to your life.
Next, exercise. US News reported that getting World Health Organization’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can add about four years to your life. One of the oldest living persons on record, 123-year-old Carmelo Flores Laura, says he owes his longevity to regular exercise. “I walk a lot, that’s all. I go out with the animals,” Flores told the Associated Press. Yoga is also great for living longer. Reducing stress and anxiety, practicing better balance and and increasing flexibility can keep you happy and healthy. Burning calories between the sheets can aid in longevity as well. A 2010 study of 1,165 middle-aged men showed that having sex two to three times a week can lower the risk of heart disease by 45%, WebMD reported. Women who enjoy sex may live up to eight years longer than women who don’t. Overall, adding any sort of exercise on a regular basis increases your chances of seeing your 100th birthday.
Centenarians live a life free of stress and with purpose. Staying happy, being spiritual and getting enough rest all play into how many years you can add to your life. Whether you go to church or practice your own type of meditation, maintaining a spiritual presence adds a level of peace to your life that plays a role in healthy aging. Do what makes you happy everyday and get at least 7-8 hours a sleep a night as often as possible and you’ll be on your way to a long, happy and healthy life.