There are many components to living younger longer. Healthy living is a decision and there is no “magic bullet”. The lifestyle choices we make today will impact us until the day we die, so it is important to know the contributing factors to health and vitality. Dr. William Sears, MD, in his book Prime Time Health says, “Longevity comes down to four factors, which he helps us remember with the acronym LEAN:
- Lifestyle: how we live
- Exercise: how we move
- Attitude: how we think
- Nutrition: how we eat”
How We Live
According to the American Psychological Association, “Stress affects all systems of the body including muscles, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous and reproductive systems.” How do we counteract stress? Here are some lifestyle habits that most centenarians (people who live to at least one hundred years old) have in common:
- They love – they have deep intimate relationships
- They serve by volunteering and ministering to others’ needs
- They enjoy music
- They think and keep their minds active
- They go slow – they are not always in a hurry, but rather notice and enjoy the world around them
- They’re fun-loving but not foolish in their activities
- They sleep – quality sleep is very important
- They work – they have a reason to wake up in the morning
- They’re sexy – Longevity research has found that sexually active couples tend to live longer
How We Move
According to the Mayo Clinic:
- Exercise controls weight
- Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
- Exercise improves mood
- Exercise boosts energy
- Exercise promotes better sleep
- Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life
- Exercise can be fun!
Dynamic centenarians move!
- They garden
- They swim
- They golf
- They walk
This keeps their bones and muscles strong and their joints flexible.
How We Think
Attitude is everything! According to the Mayo Clinic, “Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress”
Let’s look at some of the attitudes of those who live the longest:
- They laugh and enjoy themselves
- They pray and enjoy a sense of spiritual belonging
- They’re flexible – they adapt to life’s situations and surprises
- They’re up! They are positive thinkers: “If I can’t change it, I’m not going to worry about it.”
- They plan for the years ahead
How We Eat
“Every time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.” ~ Heather Morgan, MS, NLC
We fight disease by finding a diet that we can stick with for life. A healthy diet is a lifestyle, not a fad that is dangerous or difficult to maintain.
Our centenarians typically have healthy lifestyle eating habits:
- They’re lean, which means they have the optimal amount of body fat for their body type. They maintain their weight by maintain muscle.
- They eat less – 10 to 20% fewer daily calories than people on the standard American diet.
- They graze, eating smaller meals more often and taking more time to eat
- They eat pure. They eat real foods (mostly veggies, fruits and fish) and steer clear of processed, packaged foods and chemical additives.