Running a marathon is a gruelling physical feat that requires excellent fitness and lots of training. So, if asked to describe the average participant, you’d likely picture somebody relatively young.
That’s because we tend to assume that, as we age, we naturally become less physically able, and our health inevitably deteriorates.
But on 16 October 2011, Fauja Singh proved that isn’t necessarily true when he became the first 100-year-old to complete a marathon. His achievement confirmed what many scientists now believe – that we all have the capacity to stay fit and healthy until the age of 100 and beyond, provided we live the right lifestyle.
Indeed, many of the signs of aging that we consider inevitable are environmental rather than biological. The good news is, if you adopt the right habits now, you may be able to live a healthy lifestyle for years to come.
Here are seven useful rules to follow if you want to live to 100.
1. Walk as often as possible
You don’t need to run marathons to stay healthy, but you do need to move regularly. Unfortunately, if you spend most of the day sitting down at a desk or commuting, your natural activity levels are likely very low.
The good news is you can rectify this by simply walking as often as possible. For example, take the stairs instead of the lift and walk short distances instead of driving wherever possible. This is the easiest way to incorporate regular exercise into your routine and it could make a significant difference to your health.
Indeed, according to Bupa, walking regularly can reduce the likelihood of high blood pressure, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Additionally, staying active can slow brain aging and keep you mentally sharp.
2. Practice regular strength training
Cardiovascular exercise like walking is excellent for your health, but evidence shows that strength training is equally important.
A study from Harvard School of Public Health, for example, found that those who did 30 to 60 minutes of strength training each week were 10% to 20% less likely to die from all causes during the testing period.
That’s because muscle strengthening workouts help you manage blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight and improve glucose metabolism, all of which reduce your risk of disease in later life.
You can reap these benefits with a few short sessions of weightlifting or basic strength exercises like press-ups each week.
3. Stretch daily
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society reports that, in the UK, surgeons carry out more than 10,000 knee replacements each year. As such, you may think that our bones and joints naturally fail as we get older, but that isn’t necessarily true.
That’s because, like many common health problems, joint issues are largely caused by lifestyle factors. If you stay active and supple, your bones and joints may be more likely to stay healthy. Walking regularly will help here and you should also stretch daily to stay flexible.
Trying to touch your toes is an easy stretch and it is also a good indicator of how flexible you are. Alternatively, you can do some basic yoga stretches to stay supple.
4. Maintain an active social life
According to Harvard Medical School, social isolation is linked to an increased risk of dementia, and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, it can also increase your risk of several physical health problems including heart attacks and strokes.
That’s why it is important to maintain an active social life as you age. And as well as staving off cognitive decline, it encourages you to be more physically active.
5. Get a good night’s sleep
A study from Direct Line found that the UK is a severely sleep-deprived nation with 14% of adults getting under five hours a night and 71% failing to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours.
If you are in this group, you may want to make some changes because lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of dementia, heart problems, diabetes, and poor mental health.
Fortunately, you can improve your sleep pattern by sticking to a regular schedule, reducing screen time in the evenings, and getting more exercise. However, if you still have difficulty sleeping, you may want to speak to a doctor because poor sleep can be a symptom of an underlying health issue.
6. Limit salt and sugar intake
It is no surprise that eating a healthier diet is crucial for longevity, and limiting your salt and sugar intake is one of the best changes you can make.
That’s because excessive salt intake contributes to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and strokes. Additionally, eating too much sugar can cause excessive weight gain and damage your teeth.
Luckily, you can cut down on salt and sugar relatively easily if you avoid heavily processed foods and check the labels on products before you buy them.
7. Use sunscreen
There are countless skincare products that promise to prevent or reverse the effects of aging, with mixed results. However, sunscreen is often the most effective thing you can do to keep your skin looking young.
Additionally, it will reduce your chance of developing skin cancer in later life. That’s why you may want to consider wearing sunscreen daily, even if it is not especially sunny outside. Alternatively, you can use a daily moisturiser with built-in sun protection.
Get in touch
If you adopt these habits and go on to live past 100, you’ll need to make sure that your retirement income lasts that long. We can help you assess your financial plan and fund your retirement for longer.
Email email@example.com or contact your adviser on 020 3828 8100.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.