Sunday, April 8, 2012

How to Live to Be 100 and Stay Active and Healthy

[This is a nice article on aging healthily which I found in an archive. The information is relevant not only to the "young once" but also to the younger generation sets.]
Most of us were taught to believe that longevity is 70% determined by our genes, but it turns out that the ratio is actually in reverse. Only 30% of a person’s longevity is determined by genetics, which means the other 70% is up to you. 100? Yes it is quite possible…According to the U.S. Census Bureau, centenarians are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.
But it’s not enough to simply live a long life, you want to live a life that’s long, enjoyable, healthy and active to the end. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control predict that over half of us will spend our final years in a nursing home, medicated and unable to care for ourselves.
The good news is you can be among the healthy half if you make a few smart choices now.
Many of the simple decisions you make every day will determine whether your later years are marked by dependence, disease, and lack of mobility or playing tennis in your seventies, traveling the world in your eighties, and horsing around with the great-grandkids through your nineties.
Here are seven smart choices you can make today that will help you make it to your big 100th birthday:
  1. Add Antioxidants Our bodies are constantly challenged by “free-radicals” – substances in the food we eat and the environment around us that cause the oxidation and breakdown of our cells. Without the protection you get from antioxidants, these free-radicals can cause a domino effect of cellular damage that becomes the pathway for cancer, aging, and a variety of diseases. Incorporate a diet that includes a variety of whole fruits and vegetables or consider the most powerful and highly rich antioxidant available.
  2. Eat an All-natural Diet Whenever possible, choose foods that are grown organically, without the use of pesticides and herbicides, and avoid genetically modified foods. If you eat meat, insist on animals (free-range poultry and grass-fed beef and bison) raised on their natural diets. If you eat fish, stick with those known to be free of pollutants. Limit your consumption of refined sugars and processed starches. And be sure to drink plenty of fresh, purified water.
  3. Resistance Exercise There are many studies showing that resistance exercise (i.e. weightlifting and calisthenics) increases muscle size and strengthens bones. This is especially important as we get older, because the loss of muscle mass and bone density is a common “side effect” of aging. Resistance exercise also increases stamina, reduces fat, and rejuvenates the hormone systems.
  4. Stretch for Health There is nothing better for beating the aches and pains of an aging back, shoulders, joints, etc. than a combination of yoga and Pilates or in-home daily stretches. Start a daily stretch regimen to become increasingly flexible and eliminate aches and pain.
  5. Fire up Your Brain Cells The brain is often likened to a muscle in that it gets stronger with exercise. Stay mentally active ie, learn a new language, write or keep a journal, work actively on a business or hobby or part time venture. Become active in a local program where you can contribute time and skills. Brain cells talk to each other through chemicals known as neurotransmitters. The New York Times cites studies indicating that if you stimulate your brain, you can increase those important contact points by as much as 20%.
  6. Eliminate your Stress Try this: make a list of the most bothersome, people, or situations that are aggravating you. Then create a plan to heal, eliminate or radically reduce you involvement.
  7. Get Quality Sleep Most of us need at least six hours to function properly. Try to stick to a regular bedtime schedule and get 6-8 hours of sleep every day.
Follow and incorporate the above smart choices and it’s probable you will enjoy a long high quality healthy lifespan. Read <Too Old To Get Fit? Part II> and get inspiration from a classic example of how to age healthily.

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