How to Join the Centenarian Club
The average life expectancy in industrial and developing countries for those born in 2017 is 82 years for females and 76 years for males.
Here in the U.S., it’s about 78 overall.
Yet according to a survey conducted by UBS Wealth Management, 53% of wealthy investors around the world expect to live at least 100 years, and they’re adjusting their financial holdings and estate plans accordingly.
The results varied among locations:
In Germany, 76% expected to become centenarians.
In Asian countries, about half thought they would reach that age.
And in the U.S., only 30% were that confident, although 49% want to live to at least 100.
Why such a dire outlook from Americans?
One of the main reasons people gave is that no one in their family lived that long.
But even if you don’t have the greatest genes, all is not lost. You still have a chance of joining the exclusive Centenarian Club…
The Danish Twin Study found that only 20% of our life expectancy is dictated by our genes. The other 80% is based on our lifestyle.
So to boost your odds, here are a few things you can do…
Quit damaging your cells
Consider this: Our bodies have more than 37 trillion cells.
These cells turn themselves over once every eight years. Each time your cells turn over, there’s some damage. That damage builds up exponentially.
The result: At 65, you’re aging 125 times faster than when you were 12.
And the worse you treat your body, the greater the damage.
It’s kind of like what happens with your car.
For the first several years, all is well. Then a few little things go wrong. When the miles pile up, say 150,000 or so, stuff starts breaking down more frequently.
But if you ignore signs, like the flashing red oil light on your dash, things can break down faster… maybe as early as 50,000 miles.
The same is true with your body, especially when it comes to what you put in.
Most of us love a thick, creamy milkshake.
But who would’ve thought that just one could be dangerous to your health?
A study by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia shows that downing just one high-fat milkshake made with whole milk, heavy whipping cream, and ice cream can turn your red blood cells into small, spiky barbs.
That can quickly destabilize plaque and cause a heart attack or stroke. From just one serving!
Imagine what eating unhealthy meals day after day does to your body.
Most nutritional experts recommend choosing fish over other types of meat.
Loading up on fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
They also recommend big doses of omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids found in things like olive oil and nuts.
Of course, how much you eat is just as important (or even more important) than what you eat.
Using smaller plates will help you cut down on the number of calories consumed.
Instead of serving family style where you can continually pile up your plate, you can serve everyone and then put the food away.
Another thing: It takes 20-30 minutes to reach that full feeling.
So try the hara hachi bu diet. It’s a Confucian idea where you stop eating when your stomach is only 80% full.
Make your day better
Exercise is important. But it doesn’t have to be going to the gym or running marathons.
For example, Dr. Oz continually preaches the 10,000-steps-a-day routine as the ultimate workout plan.
Make your workout something – or many things – you enjoy. If you decide to walk, focus on your breathing and everything around you… the sounds, the light, the texture and smells of objects.
Or how about planting a garden? Think of the exercise you’ll get by squatting and standing up 20 or 30 times when tending your veggies.
Also, take a little time to chill out. We all need time for ourselves. Find a quiet spot for meditating, praying, drawing, listening to music or doing something like yoga for at least 15 minutes each day.
Researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied data from around the world. They found that people with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death than those with more robust social ties.
Yet we don’t have enough friends.
Fifteen years ago, the average American had three good friends. We’re down to one and half right now.
And data from the General Social Survey shows that, aside from social media, the number of us who have NO close friends has roughly tripled in recent decades.
Simply put, good friends are good for your health.
Studies have found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI).
And experiments found that people with more social connections were less likely to develop a cold when exposed to the virus than more isolated participants.
Moreover, if you socialize with people who enjoy going for a long walk on the beach or a bike ride at the park instead of watching TV or going to happy hour each night, you’re more likely to follow those same habits.
Define your ikigai
The two most dangerous years in our lives are:
1. The year we are born because of the infant mortality rate of 5.82 deaths per 1,000 births. And…
2. The year we retire.
In America we work most of our lives looking forward to retirement. Then when that day comes, life changes.
We may no longer feel needed.
The Harvard School of Public Health that found among the 5,422 individuals in a study, those who had retired were 40% more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke than those who were still working.
The increase was more pronounced during the first year after retirement, and leveled off after that.
What’s more, retirement was ranked 10th on the list of life’s most stressful events.
Of the wealthy investors who expect to live to 100, 77% said that working as long as possible was good for your health. The sentiment was particularly strong in Asia and Switzerland.
In the Okinawan language there isn’t even a word for retirement.
Instead, there is one word that describes your entire life:
Ikigai: the reason you wake up in the morning.
Okinawans remain active in their communities, always trying to contribute in some way. That’s something we can all think about.
Because at the end of the day, we can’t control our genes and there are no guarantees that any of us will get into the Centenarian Club.
Yet by following the four guidelines I just laid out, we can all at least have better enjoyment of the years we do have while giving ourselves a greater chance of more good years ahead.
To a richer life,
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap