Healthy & happy lifestyle – key to touching 100 years of life, says study

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In a new study the secret for a longer life is uncovered. Not surprisingly it lies more in a healthy and happy lifestyle than in just genetics. Researchers say that being a Centenarian is increasingly more common these days.

In the 2006 census there were 3,154 Australian Centenarians (0.16 per cent of the total population). These figures are higher than most countries and are topped only by the U.S., Norway, the Italian island of Sardinia and the Japanese island of Okinawa.

The number of Australians living to 100 is growing by 8.5 per cent a year and is expected to top 10,000 within a decade. In fact researchers predict that by 2020 there will be a whopping 12,000 Australians touching 100.

For this study the researchers at the University of New South Wales interviewed 188 Centenarians. According to Professor Robyn Richmond, the lead researcher, most of these people had some things in common. They did not smoke or drink excessively, maintained their ideal body weight throughout life and in general had a healthy lifestyle. “About 20 to 30 per cent of the likelihood of living to 100 is because of your genes, so we know that longevity does run in families…If your parents lived to a ripe old age [then] your brothers and sisters and you are likely to also live to a very long age…. Not always, of course, but it can be, so that leaves the environmental factors about 70 to 80 per cent,” she said. Female non-smokers had the longest survival according to the study. Only one in four of the 188 Australians aged 100 and over in the study is a man.

There was a similarity of attitude among these Centenarians say researchers. They were mostly optimistic, open to new ideas and change and resilient. They were in happy and stable relationships with friends and family alike. They had little or no depression, little or no evidence of heart disease. Of the 188 participants, 88 per cent had family contact at least once or twice a week, 26 per cent had daily family contact and 76 per cent participated regularly in organised group activities. “Certainly social contact with family and friends is very important…For example, if they don't have children, if they have very strong connections with their friends or if they are living in a nursing home [and] they are part of a good organization that gets them going and busy and doing interesting things with the other people who live there, they are more likely to live to 100,” Professor Richmond said.

The findings of the study were released at the International Federation on Ageing Conference in Melbourne.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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