“There’s nothing stopping you from living independently well into your 90s,” said Thomas Perls, who studies centenarians at Boston University School of Medicine. So here are 10 health habits to live by to make sure nothing stops you:
-- Don’t retire. Or, if you do, keep working as if you didn’t – by doing gardening, volunteering for civic organizations, helping with church work, etc., said Luigi Ferrucci, director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.
-- Floss daily. It cuts down on bacteria that cause gum disease, which in turn can induce inflammation in the arteries, ultimately leading to heart disease.
-- Exercise, even a little. So many studies show that exercise improves everything from mood and mental sharpness to muscle mass, balance and bones.
-- Eat a breakfast rich in fiber. This helps stabilize blood sugar for seniors and helps them avoid diabetes.
-- Sleep at least six hours. “Sleep is one of the most important functions that our body uses to regulate and heal cells,” said Ferrucci.
-- Eat whole foods; don’t rely on supplements. Evidence suggests taking vitamin and mineral supplements actually does not provide anti-aging benefits. But eating whole, unprocessed grains and ripe, colorful fruits and vegetables gives us the complex variety of biochemicals we need for maximum health.
-- Find ways to handle stress. Try, for example, yoga, exercise, meditation, tai chi or just deep breathing for a few moments. “Centenarians tend not to internalize things or dwell on their troubles,” said Perls. “They are great at rolling with the punches.”
-- Model the Seventh Day Adventists. They have an average lifespan of 89, about 10 years longer than average Americans. They avoid smoking, alcohol abuse and overeating of sweets, generally eat vegetarian, get lots of exercise, and cherish family and community.
-- Stick to routines – such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, eating the same diet and doing the same activities. This keeps the body in a comfortable equilibrium.
-- Stay in touch with people. Hobnobbing with friends and relatives helps avoid depression, which can be deadly in elderly people.