Living a long life is a goal most of us aspire to. After all, the longer we spend on this planet, the more opportunities we get to have a fulfilling and happy life - whatever that means to you personally. The good news is, the 21st century is probably the best time in history to live way past your 100s.
With the advances of science and medicine, the number of centenarians on Earth today is higher than ever: 417,000 worldwide according to data from 2015. And this figure is expected to rise to 3.7 million by 2050. Have you ever wondered what your odds are to live to be 100, scientifically speaking? These 12 signs mean that you’ll likely live a very long life.
1. You feel younger than your age
Does the number on the birthday cake match how you feel? Do you feel like you’re 45 and not 60? If so, that’s good news for you - says a British study from 2014. The large study looked at 6,489 participants 52 years and older. The researchers asked the people how they felt relative to their age. The effect of the participant’s self-perceived age was so strong that those who felt younger had the lowest mortality rate: about 14% over 8 years. Those who felt older than their age, on the other hand, had a nearly 25% risk of passing away. The message is clear - we all ought to learn how to feel young, and we’ll live longer!
2. You were married in your middle decades
Be grateful to your spouse for giving you the opportunity to live longer. Research from the Duke University Medical Center showed that being married in midlife reduces one’s risk of premature death. The study looked at 4,802 individuals from the Baby Boomer generation, and those who lived with a spouse during their middle age had a much lower risk of untimely death. Having someone to help and support you through the challenges of middle age means more than you think!
Doing chores is a pain in the neck - sometimes metaphorically, and sometimes even literally. But all that house cleaning is even better than you think, as it turns out that keeping your house clean increases your longevity too. According to a large study from Sweden on older adults, doing your own cleaning and gardening instead of prolonged sitting lowers the risk of death by 30 percent. In people who are 60 and older, being active while doing chores like washing up or vacuuming prolongs life!
4. You don’t look your age
We all know those people who just don’t seem to age like the rest of us and, frankly, look much younger than they should. If that describes you too, you’re in luck! Research from the British Medical Journal found that looking younger is correlated with living longer too.
The study in question examined 1,826 twins and discovered that the older-looking twins tended to pass away earlier than their younger-looking siblings. The higher the disparity between their looks, the higher the risk of mortality in the older twin. The takeaway message for those of us who don’t have a twin is: go the extra mile to look and feel healthier, and you’ll likely live a longer life.
5. You eat more of these types of foods
Are you a fan of fruits and vegetables? We all know we should be, as those who truly follow a plant-based diet are a lot more likely to live until their 100s. This was shown time and time again in observational studies, with one study in women in their 70s showing that eating lots of fruits and vegetables nearly halves one’s mortality risk in the next 5 years.
But we can also see a similar picture in so-called Blue Zones - areas on the planet with the highest concentration of centenarians. The people who live in these places have lived on a plant-based diet their whole lives. To learn more about the foods included in the Blue Zones diet, read our article 10 Foods That The World’s Longest Living People Eat.
6. You gave birth later than your peers
Ladies, here’s a fact few of us expected to see. A study from 2014 that looked at 551 families across the US found that women who had a baby later in life outlived their peers who gave birth earlier on in their lives. In the study, those women who became mothers after age 40 had a four times bigger chance to live longer than their peers who gave birth in their 30s. So, if you were considered “a late bloomer” in terms of your family life, you may have the advantage of living much longer than your peers.
7. Your grandparents lived a long life too
Say thank you to grandma and grandpa for passing those longevity genes to you! Those who have grandparents who lived a long life have a much better chance of living to be 100 than the rest of us. A 2010 study wanted to find out how genetics influences one’s likelihood to live past 100 years.
They looked at 1,055 centenarians and 1,267 control subjects and found that your genes can predict a long life with up to 85% accuracy! Of course, genes aren’t the only factor and your environment also plays an equally significant role, but knowing that your grandparents’ genes have your back sure is reassuring!
8. You always find the time to unwind
Taking a mental health break feels like the right thing to do because it is. So never skip your daily walk, evening bath time, morning meditation, or whatever you do to brush away stress and anxiety. ‘Why’ you ask? Well, you’re probably aware that stress is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation, but here’s one more interesting science lesson from a 2015 study from the University of California.
The study found that women who experience chronic stress have much lower levels of klotho - an enzyme that regulates aging and brain health. The authors of the study suggest that this little-known enzyme may play a big role in accelerated disease progression. So, the choice is clear - enjoy your stress-free time and the complimentary longevity boost.
Having meaningful social connections with family, peers, and friends goes a long way in promoting longevity. In Sardinia, Italy, another Blue Zone, friendship and connectedness are the main priority. But don’t get us wrong, this intuitive priority on social life is also supported by science. A 2010 meta-analysis, for example, compares social isolation to such known health risks as obesity. An abundant social life full of meaningful connections can cut your risk of premature death in half - the study suggests.
10. You don’t mind a midday nap
The Mediterranean tradition of having a midday nap called a siesta is rather well-known. But did you know that research from Harvard claims that a 30-minute nap can decrease your risk of dying from heart disease by over a third? The study examined the napping habits of 23,000 people over the course of 6 years and concluded that a midday siesta is beneficial for your heart health and overall longevity. So snooze away and enjoy the benefits!
11. You’ve always enjoyed a good run (or walk)
Exercising is obviously beneficial for everyone, but the surprising fact is just how long-lasting the effects of exercise really are. If you’ve had a good physical fitness level in midlife, this promotes your health and longevity much later in life, and we’re talking decades.
According to a 2012 study in 19,000 middle-aged people, those who have the highest fitness level remain the strongest and healthiest in their 70s and later. What qualifies as “high fitness” under these criteria? Running a mile in 8 minutes for men or 10 minutes for women was the benchmark for the study in question.
12. You have these character traits
A fascinating group of studies also reviews the link of certain character traits to longevity. Studies point out that characteristics like optimism, joyfulness, openness, and conscientiousness are most commonly found in people who live to be 100 or older. Researchers believe that this is most likely due to the ability of these character traits to lower stress and make it easier to adapt to unexpected life scenarios. Self-discipline is also important, as it helps a person stay away from unhealthy habits and stick to healthy ones.
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