20 tips to increase your longevity

Want to make sure you live a long, rich life? Here are 20 tips to help you get to 100.

By Anne Bokma

How to live longer
Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, the world's oldest person, died in 1997 at the age of 122. Her longevity probably had a lot to do with her zest for life – at 85 she took up fencing and at 100 she was still riding a bike.

According to the 2006 Census, there are about 4,600 people over the age of 100 in Canada, and number that's grown 22 per cent from 2001. And by 2031, there will be some 14,000 Canadian centenarians.

What you can do to live longer

Having the right genes certainly boosts your chances of making it to the century mark, since longevity runs in families. At least 50 per cent of centenarians have first-degree relatives or grandparents who reach a ripe age, according to Boston University's New England Centenarian Study (NECS), the most comprehensive study of seniors in the world.

You can't control genetics, but there are plenty of things you can do to increase the probability of living to a ripe old age. "At the end of the day The New England study showed that lifestyle, diet, mental attitude and spiritual disposition play the biggest roles in longevity," says Farid Wassef, a pharmacist in Stouffville, Ontario, and co-author of Breaking the Age Barrier (Viking Canada, 2003).

Hope to live to 100? Heed the following 20 tips and you just might make it.

1. Stay trim: Extra weight puts you at risk for heart attack, diabetes, cancer and other diseases that can shave years off your life.

2. Eat well and prosper: You know the drill – 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day (the more colourful the better), lots of whole grains and cut down on salt, fat and sugar.

3. Don't smoke: Need we say more?

4. Have kids later: A woman who bears a child after age 40 has four times of a greater chance of living to 100 than women who give birth earlier in life, according to NECS.

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