Friday, March 25, 2016

Studies on Healthy Centenarians

This is the data from Dr. Barzilai, the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and is based on longitudinal study of 500 healthy elders.

At age 70 his centenarian data:

    37 percent were overweight

    8 percent were obese

    37 percent were smokers (for an average of 31 years)

    44 percent reported only moderate exercise

    20 percent never exercised at all

Despite this at the age of 100 the people in this study had 60 percent lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Depression and other psychiatric illnesses are almost nonexistent.

There are many studies done on Centenarians that involve asking them to try to explain why they have lived so long. When reviewing these interviews, there are patterns and themes that come up in every study.

It is interesting when doing a review of the literature on Centenarians; I found it doesn’t seem to matter where they live or what their particular culture, when it comes to their beliefs and the behaviors they seem to have intuitively established the same beliefs and behaviors that foster longevity.

    Staying mentally active and always learning something new.

    Keeping a positive attitude.

    Friends and family important part of their daily life.

    Being social with a strong social network.

    Faith/spirituality is important.

    Healthy opposition to the tribal rules that don’t fit their beliefs. (Breaking unnecessary rules)

    Don’t like to be around old people whose conversations revolve around aches and pain, or doctor visits.

    Don’t like to go to the doctor and most have not gone in years. They say their doctors died a long time ago.

    Live in moderation.

    Keep moving naturally, remaining active doing things they enjoy.

    Have a strong sense of purpose.

    Have routines that shed their stress like kicking back with something they savor, taking a nap, prayer or mediation.

    Eat less meat.

    The Mediterranean diet was most popular among centenarians of various locations and cultures.

    Drink alcohol in moderation.

A few more interesting statistics:

    Eight of every nine Centenarians are women.

    19 percent use cell phones.

    12 percent use the Internet.

    3 percent have participated in online dating.

Some findings from Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer’s book, Counterclockwise:

    Women who think they look younger after having their hair colored show a decrease in blood pressure and are rated more youthful in photos even when the pictures do not show their hair.

    Being married to someone younger tends to lengthen your life

    Being married to someone older tends to shorten your life.

    Prematurely bald men see themselves as older and, therefore, age faster.

Mario Martinez in his book Body Codes has interesting findings from his Centenarian Study

·       “Without expanded consciousness to match our lifespan, we are dying longer instead of living longer.”

·       Most Centenarians view themselves to be much younger than their age.

·       Most Centenarians enjoy and seek out novelty and wisdom when facing challenges.

·       They defied cultural norms that do not make sense to them their entire life.

·       When you meet healthy centenarians, you realize they don’t fit the stereotype of their age.

·       “Resilience, perseverance, creativity, and flexibility are all attributes I have found in every healthy centenarian I have studied, in cultures spanning five continents.”

·       They continue to plan for the future. When asked about his garden a man who was 106 told the interviewer “wait until you see next year’s garden. It is going to be bigger and much better.”

·       They do not hold grudges. They have an outlook that enabled them to forgive easily and often used an attitude of gratitude replacing anger. “I am so grateful that my guardian angels were with me that day or things could have been a lot worse.”

·       Martinez found that Centenarians made “joyful choices” rather than forced abstinence.

·       Centenarians followed the middle way having no compulsive behaviors; but knew how to savory pleasure. One man reported that he never smoked during the day, but he did have “a good cigar every night before bedtime.”

·       They experience the depth of emotional and physical pain with acceptance.

·       They continue to be curious and interested in learning new things.

·       They have the belief that it is never too late to engage in passion. Many singles are dating and seeking a new partner. Some marry again in their 100’s.

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