In 1908 a village vicar made British headlines for reaching the ripe old age of 100. This landmark moment was recognised by the Royal family and paved the way for its tradition – all centenarians can now expect to receive a birthday card from the Queen.
Today, this is the fastest growing age group and more and more of us can expect to live well into our 80s. There’s no fountain of youth, nor a way to rewind the clock, but knowing that most us will turn 80 should encourage us to focus on health and wellbeing so that all those years can be happy and full of life.
They say that with age comes wisdom, so we’re combining anecdotes from recent centenarians with our knowledge on health and wellness. Here are a few tips to increase your chances of living a long, healthy and happy life. They may even add an extra digit to your age.
‘Choose the right grandparents’ Mac Miller, 104
Although it’s likely that genetics plays a big part in longevity, it isn’t the only factor. We’re looking at the lifestyle choices that have made a difference to people’s health with age.
‘Forget about it!’ – Joe Sunderland, 107
It seems that the older we get the more we wish we hadn’t worried over the little things in life. At Spinal Care Clinics in Brentwood we’ve seen first hand the physical impact emotional stress and anxiety can have on our bodies. It’s scary. Chronic stress leads to prolonged increased-cortisol levels, which can mess with our immune system. Although this is an initial protective response, it produces widespread inflammation when there shouldn’t be any, and it can cause musculoskeletal pain.
Many of us find ourselves in this situation and put up with it thinking everything will be ok once the stressful situation is over. It’s a phase. Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way. Stressful moments come and go but what matters most is the way we respond.
‘I’m as healthy as a 25-year-old’ – Ida Keeling, 104
This superwoman has been using running to help her cope with some of the stresses in life since she completed her first 5k at the age of 67. For her, the key to staying young is to keep moving.
It’s estimated that we can expect to lose 3% to 5% muscle mass per decade after we turn 30, and the average person will lose about 30% during their lifetime. SO preserving that muscle mass and our general fitness is very important to living a healthy, active life as we get older. Even so, it is possible to rebuild some of this muscle mass later with a targeted exercise plan.
Go easy on the salt
This didn’t come straight from the centenarians, it’s home-grown advice. Nutrition forms an integral part of our 8 Weeks to Wellness program where we encourage clean eating. We really aim to avoid any type of processed foods as these come packed with added sugars and salts.
Salt brings the flavour out of certain foods and it is an important part of a healthy diet, but too much of it can lead to cardiovascular disease. In fact, we’ve become so addicted to salt that it’s even found in high doses in chocolate! So watch out for this heart breaker.
Get some decent shuteye
If you needed another excuse to catch those Zs, here it is. When our days were dictated by natural light and smart phones weren’t distracting our minds, we were getting roughly 9-10 hours sleep every night. Today most of us are lucky if we get more than 6.5 hours! Recent studies suggest that getting an adequate amount of sleep could be the biggest factor affecting our overall health. Just one week surviving on 5 hours sleep per night can increase your heart rate significantly and have a big impact on mood and productivity.
Our final piece of advice is to take full responsibility over your wellbeing as early as possible. It’s so easy to treat our bodies and minds like machines, expecting them to just keep ticking. We can get so wrapped-up in our lives that we forget to invest in our current state of mental and physical wellbeing and we could be testing our body’s limits in the process.
Genetics does play a big factor on determining whether you’ll reach that big 100 but it doesn’t guarantee those years will be a bundle of joy. Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle could make all the difference, and the sooner we take care of our bodies the better things will look in the long run.