We are answering the question, ‘How do you live to be 100?’ Perhaps more people would be willing to think about ‘How long do you want to live—what kind of shape can you choose to be in at that age—and what do you have to do to get there?’
You may remember that when I started writing about lifestyle habits of centenarians, I was following the outline of the book, Living to be 100 by Michael E Howard, PhD. In previous blogs, we have covered lifestyle habits that include low blood pressure, low blood sugar, low blood total cholesterol; diet (food choices, low caloric intake, steady and low weight); supplements.
Today, we’ll answer the question, ‘Do I have to go to the gym to increase my activity level so I can live to be 100?’
Observations from the Studies
In his book, Dr. Howard points to a number of definitive conclusions about centenarians’ activity levels. They have:
- A lifelong history of regular physical activity
- An active lifestyle for as long as possible
- Avoided physical frailty by engaging in resistance exercise (i.e., climbing stairs)
Dr. Howard offers a number of observations about the link between activity and longevity.
“Lack of exercise is a powerful risk factor for developing heart disease, stroke, many cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and many other age-related disorders. Getting regular exercise improves the chances of avoiding all of these diseases and having a long and healthy life.”
“With a good exercise regimen, a fit 70-year old can be in better physical shape than the average college student.”
“The benefits of regular exercise include better cardiovascular health, improved mood, better mental acuity, better balance and fewer falls, greater muscle mass, and better bone density.” (p. 121)
From personal experience, I can validate that these statements are true. My personal choice of regular activity is a 30-minute brisk walk in my neighborhood at least 5 days per week. I know that my energy level (and more) is definitely higher than many half my age!
Recommendations for Activity
Centenarians are active participants in walking, biking, swimming, gardening, golfing, tai chi, and karate to name a few activities.
Additionally, anyone can increase your daily activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking a little further away from the door of the store, take a walking break instead of a coffee break.
Many seniors are taking advantage of “partnership programs” offered at community fitness facilities and paid for by insurance companies. These programs often include water aerobics, resistance training with exercise bands, and even weight-resistant exercise that helps bones stay dense and strong.
The recommendation for activity is 30 minutes a day, at least 3-4 times a week, but every day is certainly better! Walking briskly can be measured by steps/minute, heart rate, or the talk test. (Contact me for more details about these methods, or simply check online).
The Center for Disease Control recommends getting 10,000 steps per day. You can monitor this with any number of devices that track your steps, distance, active minutes, etc. You can set your device to remind you to take some steps/get some activity every hour. This provides a great reminder to someone who is sitting at a desk for the majority of the day.
Avoiding an inactive retirement and having a busy lifestyle seem to be descriptors of the lives of centenarians. “The New England Centenarian Study found that centenarians typically live surprisingly productive lives and wake up each day with eager anticipation to get things done.” (p.128)
To answer the headline question: do you have to go to a gym? NO!
What About You?
What do you do? What have you done in the past? What can you restart?
Where do you ‘work-out’…a gym, your neighborhood, home equipment, golf course, pickle ball court?
How often are you intentionally active? Once a week, 3-4 times a week, every day? Put it on your calendar, in your schedule, and keep your appointment with yourself! You will definitely notice the difference!
What will you do differently as a result of reading this blog?
Remember, if you are starting from a sedentary lifestyle, you should check with your doctor or health care professional before starting a program.
Do You Need Some Help in Getting Started?
A partner who will walk or work-out with you is a great help.
A journal to track your progress can be a great motivator.
A naturally-sourced energy drink with electrolytes and B vitamins can be a great investment to get you started and keep you going! Beware of the sugar and caffeine content of products on the grocery shelf! I have a great suggestion- call me!
If you’re wondering about the supplements you are currently taking, or you feel a need to upgrade your supplements to support a higher level of activity, or you want to know my personal recommendations based on 21 years of experience, contact me (480.382.8255 phone/text; firstname.lastname@example.org email) and let’s set up an appointment (in person or zoom) to get you on track to a vital, vibrant and vivacious life!