To hit 100, try friends, fitness, sex and a good attitude
And a good attitude toward aging doesn't hurt, study says
Dave McGinn, CanWest News Service Published: Friday, September 07, 2007
On Monday morning, Kamsong Luk starts her day with an hour of yoga. On Wednesday morning, it is tai chi. That may sound unremarkable for most people, but Luk is 104.
"It's good for my back," says Luk, a resident of a nursing home in downtown Toronto.
If you want to reach 100, you don't have to master the joy stretch or the spinal twist the way Luk has. But according to an ongoing, groundbreaking study of centenarians by Boston-based geriatrician Dr. Thomas Perls, there is a list of things you must do to one day blow out 100 candles on your birthday cake.
The good news? Sex is one of them.
"In the New England Centenarian study, Dr. Perls was able to understand what are the common denominators that predict longevity," says Dr. Fabio Varlese, program director of the acute care unit at Toronto's Baycrest Hospital and a specialist in internal and geriatric medicine.
Some of these common denominators -- good nutrition and regular exercise -- are obvious. Aging and longevity experts recommend a diet low in fats and salt and high in fruits and vegetables and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a few days each week, whether it's running, swimming or vigourous walking.
"Fewer centenarians are obese," says Varlese. "Most of the men who are centenarians are almost always lean." Considering that obesity is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and higher incidence of cancer, which represent the leading causes of death in industrialized countries, it is no surprise that most centenarians are trim.
Steven Friedlich, a 78-year-old consulting engineer in Toronto, saw his father pass away this year just shy of his 106th birthday and will celebrate his mother's centenary this month. His parents were never very conscious of their diet, says Friedlich. "But they always ate home-cooked meals and they never once ate fast food," he says.
But Perls' research suggests that the secret to living to 100 may have more to do with psychology than physiology.
If you actually look forward to getting older, your chances of doing so are much better than if you dread aging, according to the New England Centenarian study. "Attitude is one of the most important predictors of longevity," says Varlese. "When you look at life satisfaction ratings, work satisfaction ratings, they are all considered predictors of longevity," he says.
People who are happy with their lives and their work are far less likely to suffer from stress. Perls' research found centenarians are much better at dealing with stress than the general population.
As well, centenarians are generally socially and intellectually engaged. So, by having dinner with friends on a regular basis or being part of a group, whether a knitting circle or a coffee klatch, you better your chances of reaching 100.
To keep the brain fit, longevity experts suggest doing crosswords and brain teasers, learning a new language or how to play a new musical instrument.
Whether or not a person has sex once in a while is also a predictor of longevity. "People who are still sexually active during their 80s and 90s tend to be physically active and they tend to pay attention to their nutrition," says Varlese.
As a study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine found, sex with a partner in the previous year was reported by 73 per cent of people ages 57 to 64, 53 per cent of those ages 64 to 75 and 26 per cent of people 75 to 85. Most of the more than 3,000 respondents said they had sex two or three times a month or more.
Finally, if you plan to live to 100, it is important to get your finances in order well before retirement. "The planning process should start when you're in your 40s, if not sooner. But we're finding there are people who are 55 who are just now putting a plan together," says Stuart Rowles, a Vancouver-based financial planner.
Rowles says the best strategy for a comfortable retirement is to save often and save early. "The most important thing is systematic savings at a very early age."
Still, too many people are in the dark about their retirement financing.
"The No. 1 question that people ask me is, 'How do I know if I have enough to see me through my retirement?' " says Patricia Lovett-Reid, senior vice-president, TD Waterhouse. "People need to stand back and ask where their money is going to come from in retirement. Usually, it's a combination of a private pension, government RSP or non-RSP," she says.
Lovett-Reid recommends determining a "retirement number" -- the amount of money you will want to have in retirement -- and begin saving toward it as early as possible. "Most people are adequately funded for retirement but they don't know it because they don't know their numbers," she says.
As scientists and wealth managers strive to understand longevity, Luk says she has a simple secret for living a long life.
"I never eat too much," she says, "and I'm always happy."
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007
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Thread: Sex And The Centenarian
09-07-2007, 12:39 PM #1
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Sex And The CentenarianIf you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
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09-07-2007, 12:52 PM #2
interesting article but to have sex at the age of 85to 100,maybe the blue pill could be your best friend,lol."sauver ou périr"
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