How to live to celebrate your 100th birthday!

In fact, that quality tops the list of centenarians’ lessons for aging that Perls and Silver have created :

  • Attitude. Centenarians tend to be an optimistic group. They rarely consider their age a limitation. They have dealt well with the stresses in their lives. And they take advantage of new opportunities.

  • Genetics. Most people can live to age 85 if they take good care of themselves. But if most members of your family are living into their 60s and 70s, an alarm bell should go off. Disease prevention and screening, along with good health practices, can help you make up for at least some of the genetic differences between you and centenarians.

  • Exercise. After age 30, we lose about 1/3 pound of muscle every year — muscle that’s replaced by fat. Through exercise, especially resistance training such as weight-lifting, you can regain muscle mass while reducing your risk of heart disease, improving your mental ability, and markedly enhancing your sense of well-being.

  • Investigate new challenges. Keep your mind active with new activities to exercise different parts of your brain. Learn a new language, learn to play an instrument, write your autobiography, volunteer. Such activities develop new connections between different parts of the brain, strengthening it and preventing any deficits from showing up in everyday functioning.

  • Nutrition. Keeping calorie intake under control is critical to slowing the aging process. For most people, simply cutting back on unnecessary calories a little every day — especially sweets and other carbohydrates — can make a big difference in weight loss. Perls also recommends taking daily supplements of vitamin E (400-800 units) and selenium (100-200 milligrams), both of which have been shown to be potent antioxidant substances that combat cell damage from so-called free radicals, thus helping to prevent cancer, stroke, and heart disease.

  • Get rid of stress — and don’t smoke. Both cut years from your life and are responsible for a lot of illness.

We all can learn to manage stress better, adds Silver. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, creative visualization, and exercise are all great stress reducers.

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