Prevention & Recovery

20 tips to increase your longevity

20 tips to increase your longevity

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

20 tips to increase your longevity

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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5. Feed your head: Do crosswords, learn a new language, take up a hobby, attend a lecture and figure out how to Twitter and Skype. All these things will keep your mind engaged.

6. Stay fit: Regular exercise keeps your body strong and is the best insurance against disease and injury.

7. Be the life of the party: Or at least maintain social connections by having close ties with friends and family. Such connections can help ward off depression, boost your body's immune system and help you live longer.

8. Develop stress-busting habits: Walk, meditate, talk to a friend or play music. Learn stress management, as it's one of the keys to disease prevention.

9. Lend a helping hand: Volunteering makes you happier, healthier and live a longer life. Studies from the U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service show a strong link between volunteering and longevity.

10. Get married: Plenty of studies show that married folks live longer than their unmarried counterparts. And marriage is especially beneficial for men – a 2010 study from Germany's Ruhr Graduate School in Economics found married men were 6 per cent more likely to go to the doctor – probably because their wives encouraged them to have a regular checkup.

11. Have more sex: An active sex life is closely connected with a longer life. A 2010 report in the American Journal of Cardiology shows that men who have sex two or three times a week have a lower risk of heart disease by 45 per cent.

12. Laughter really is the best medicine:
A University of Maryland study found that 15 minutes of laughter a day can improve blood flow to the heart by 50 per cent, which helps reduce heart disease.

13. Keep your cool: "He that can have patience, can have what he will," said Benjamin Franklin. That may include a longer life. Men who frequently express anger are more than twice as likely to have a stroke than those who control their tempers, according to a 1999 study reported in the journal Stroke.

Page 2 of 3 - Read more tips on improving your longevity on page 3

14. Get the right amount of shut-eye: A 2002 study conducted by the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in California on the sleep habits of one million Americans found people who sleep between six and a half and seven and a half hours a night live the longest. It also found that people who sleep eight hours or more, or less than six and a half hours, don't live quite as long.

15. Take a daily multivitamin: A report from Harvard Medical School advises a regular dose of supplements, including calcium and vitamin D, can help lengthen life.

16. Daily flossing can add years to your life:
Poor oral health is related to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies done at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, with the Centers for Disease Control, indicated that people with gingivitis and periodontitis have a mortality rate that is 23 to 46 per cent higher than those who don't.

17. Play fetch with Fido: People who have pets are less lonely and depressed and also get more exercise, all of which can add years to their lives.

18. Be part of a spiritual community:
Many large-scale studies show that people who regularly attend religious services live longer, happier and healthier lives.

19. Have a regular medical checkup:
Many diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease can be treated or even prevented if caught early enough.

20. Look for blue skies: One quality most centenarians share is optimism. If you want to live a long life, your attitude counts.

How long will you live?
Check out the Life Expectancy Calculator at Based on findings from the NECS project, it asks 40 simple questions and takes 10 minutes to complete.

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Prevention & Recovery

20 tips to increase your longevity