While you’d think most centenarians — people who’ve lived 100 years or longer — would offer up lots of do’s and don’ts or diet and exercise regimens, their longevity secrets, it turns out, have little to do with most of the usual healthy-living recommendations. In fact, many spent a lifetime ignoring the advice of health experts. They didn’t avoid smoking or lose weight, yet most centenarians say they feel on average 20 years younger than their chronological age.
Centenarians, it seems, age more slowly than the rest of the population. Sardinia, a region of Italy, has the most centenarians per capita – 6 centenarians for every 3,000 people – 10 times more than in the US where the ratio is 1 per 5,000.
But, the statistics for 100+ year olds may surprise you. For example:
- 37% were smokers for an average of 31 years
- 37% were overweight; 8% were obese
- 20% never exercised at all; 44% only moderately
Yet, these centenarians have lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Psychiatric illnesses, such as depression, are almost nonexistent.
According to research and interviews with centenarians themselves, the primary difference between them and the rest of us comes down to six key ingredients…
- Zest for life
- Strong family and social ties
- Sense of humor
- Eating real food
- Hard work
Centenarians tend to be exceptionally good at expressing love, nurturing others, working hard, being involved in their communities, and flat-out refusing to stress about the small stuff—or most anything for that matter.
Happiness, say centenarians, is the key to a long life, and research backs them up. In fact, happy people tend to live about 35 percent longer. Positive thoughts and attitudes seem to somehow strengthen the immune system, boost positive emotions, and decrease pain and inflammation.
Sadly, though, life expectancy worldwide is now on the decline. At least half the US population is struggling with chronic illness. Many centenarians think the 21st century lifestyle is to blame. Modern conveniences and technologies have left us stressed-out, unhappy, unhealthy, chronically tired, and disconnected from each other.
They say that if you want to live to 100 and enjoy the happy, healthy lifestyle they had, you must be proactive every day and that managing stress is vital. Most importantly, they all agree that the keys to living to 100 are available to everyone, everywhere. And, as you can see, they’re not complicated.