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How to Live to Be 100 Years Old

100th birthday celebration with three older adult women dressed up taking a selfie

Reaching your one hundredth birthday is a huge milestone, and one that once was the stuff of science fiction. As modern medicine improves and life expectancies rise, more people than ever before are celebrating triple-digit birthdays. There were a whopping 89,739 centenarians in the United States as of 2021!

So how can you live to 100 years of age? While some keys to longevity are genetic, there is quite a bit that is within your control. Here is how to live a longer, healthier and happier life.

6 Secrets to Living Longer

1. Eat a Plant-based Diet

In researching the diets of Blue Zones, areas of the world with a high concentration of centenarians, author Dan Buettner found several commonalities. People in these regions ate far less meat than most Americans. When they did indulge, they tended to stick to leaner lamb and fish. Legumes such as beans and chickpeas were a staple, as were leafy greens, local fruits and vegetables.

2. Quit Smoking

It’s nearly impossible to imagine a centenarian lighting up a cigarette. According to the CDC, quitting smoking can add up to 10 years to your life expectancy by reducing your risk for cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The earlier you quit, the greater the health benefits. It is a smart way to add life to your years.

3. Exercise Regularly

Thomas Perls, director of Boston University’s New England Centenarian Study, found that people who live to be 100 have several things in common, including healthy habits. When asked in a recent podcast how to live to 100, Perls recommended daily exercise that combines aerobics and strength training. Whole body training is important to maintain muscle mass, which in turn helps with mobility and balance.

4. Reduce Stress

Perls also points out that the people who tend to live the longest experience less stress. He cites the example of long-lived Seventh Day Adventists, who are active in their religious communities, suggesting these observances provide regular stress relief. Perls also advises trying yoga as a way to reduce stress through mindful movement.

5. Find Your Purpose

The Georgia Centenarian Study found that people aged 100 and over reported high feelings of competence, that is, they felt able to contribute in a meaningful way. Finding your purpose in retirement could involve volunteering, learning a new skill, or even traveling. Getting involved in activities within your community is a great way to discover what people need and how you can fulfill those needs with your unique talents.

Stay Connected

The Georgia Centenarian Study also found that people who lived longer reported high levels of extraversion. And, most centenarians live with others rather than alone. Social activity can improve mental health and slow age-related cognitive decline. Older people with strong social connections were also more likely to get the medical care they needed to stay healthy longer.

Aging well is part art and part science. While there are no guarantees, you can do your best to reach the big 1-0-0 by following medical recommendations to eat well and exercise regularly. You should also consider what will make you happiest as you work to build social connections and stay active in your community. After all, you want to enjoy all 100 of those years of life.

Riverwalk Village at The House of the Good Shepherd is a joyful independent living community in Hackettstown, NJ. If you are dreaming of an active lifestyle to 100 and beyond, we would love to give you a tour of our beautiful campus.