Yesterday, we here at Freedom Home Care reported that the world lost its oldest member. Besse Cooper peacefully passed away after 116 years on the planet, and in an interview with Guinness World Records, she attributed her long life to minding her own business and not eating junk food.
And although only eight others have ever lived to such an age, many do live past 100. The question, therefore, surrounds the secrets of their longevity. In an article published by Everyday Health, “researchers believe that both genetics and lifestyle behaviors play an important part in a centenarian’s health and longevity.”
To increase the possibility of making it to the 100-year marker, Everyday Health offered up the following from the New England Centenarian Study, which took place in Boston:
- 1. Not smoking. Although they grew up in an era where the risks of smoking were not well known, substantial smoking is rare among centenarians. Nicholas Pierro, age 100, of Jacksonville, Fla., once smoked, but stopped at around age 60 to avoid the negative effects it was having on his health. “I did a lot of smoking,” Pierro admits. “And then I realized that I was getting a pain in my chest, and so I stopped smoking and then the pain went away.”
- 2. Maintaining a healthy body weight. Very few of the centenarians enrolled in the NECS were obese, and nearly all the men had body weights that were considered lean.
- 3. Exercising regularly. In a study that examined the genetics and lifestyle factors of a group of Okinawan centenarians, researchers found that these Japanese centenarians exercised fairly regularly throughout their lives. Louis Charpentier, age 99, of Leominster, Mass., started exercising long before going to the gym was common. “When I was 20 years old, [my friends and I] started weight-lifting,” Charpentier remembers. “Finally I could lift 125 pounds over my head, and I only weighed 150 pounds!” Charpentier still does standing exercises and chair exercises to keep him in shape. Pierro has also kept moving throughout his life. He worked as a landscaper when he was younger and continues to spend time working in his yard.
- 4. Eating a healthful diet. The Okinawan centenarians tend to eat a very healthy diet, low in calories and high in fruits and vegetables, fiber, and good fats, like omega-3 fatty acids. “I don’t eat very much,” says Charpentier, “but I always eat a fruit, a vegetable, and a little meat, and I always make sure that I get sardines and salmon at least once or twice a week.”
We here at Freedom Home Care cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining healthy habits. Regardless of a person’s age, life is always more enjoyable when the body is treated with respect.