8 tips to live to 100 and join the centenarian club
Life expectancy is increasing across the globe and Canada is no different. In the 1980s, the average Canadian was living until 75.43 years—that number has been on a steady climb over the last 50 years and now sits at an impressive 81.97 years.
And as that number continues to increase, so does the number of Canadians reaching the age of 100. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s centenarian population has grown to over 9,500 in 2021. And as more and more Baby Boomers are expected to turn 100, that number is expected to continue to grow. By 2065, projections show that there will be over 87,500 centenarians in Canada.
Looking to make your way into the Centenarian Club? These 8 actionable tips have helped many centenarians before you, and they can help you live a long and healthy life.
1. Swap red meat for plant-based proteins
If you’re prone to having a good steak or two, or three a week, it’s time to swap some of that red meat in your diet for sources of plant-based proteins. The 2019 update to the Canadian Food Guide recommends increasing your consumption of plant-based proteins— legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, and fortified soy beverages are all great plant-based protein options. Eating more plant-based proteins has been proven to reduce the development of chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and some cancers such as endometrial, colorectal, and breast cancers.
2. Manage your stress
Canadians are stressed. In a survey conducted by Statistics Canada, 25% of Canadians reported experiencing high levels of stress most days, and almost half noted that their stress levels have significantly increased since the pandemic. While stress doesn’t make your day-to-day particularly enjoyable, it can also contribute to a lot of long-term health conditions including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and obesity. Mindfulness is a proven strategy to help reduce stress. But finding something that works and resonates with you is the most important thing—maybe you enjoy taking a walk, meditating, or reading a book to manage your stress.
3. Stop sedentary behaviour
Too much sedentary time can also impact your mental health. The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines recommend that adults aged 18-64 years reduce sedentary time. They suggest limiting sedentary time to 8 hours or less, with no more than 3 hours of recreational screen time per day, and breaking up long periods of sitting as much as possible.
If you’re working a 9-to-5 desk job, try getting up at least once an hour for a walk to grab some water, use the washroom, or just to get your legs moving. You can also try these 6 stretches that are designed to be done at your desk.
4. Work on your balance
Losing your mobility becomes a big concern as you age. Older adults need to worry about getting around independently and falling becomes a potential issue. A 2020 study on older Canadians found that 34.5% had a fall in the past year, another 20.2% needed medical attention after the fall, and 38.8% have a fear of falling.
The Canadian Center of Activity and Aging has a great breakdown of how to incorporate balance training into your routine—with videos you can follow, the Center recommends balance and flexibility sessions last a minimum of 5 minutes.
5. Stay in touch with your doctor
It might sound like common sense, but it’s worth repeating—it is important to stay up-to-date with all necessary preventative screenings and annual doctor visits. When you catch potential illnesses and issues early, you give yourself the best chance. From cardiovascular diseases to breast cancer, studies have found that early diagnosis and treatment are key to successful outcomes.
Not sure what checkups you need? You can visit the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care or learn more here:
- Preventative Screenings in your 20s
- Preventative Screenings in your 30s
- Preventative Screenings in your 40s
- Preventative Screenings in your 50s
- Preventative Screenings in your 60s and beyond
6. Make your mindset a priority
While Betty White died just shy of her 100th birthday, she offered up a true look into how the power of positivity and a healthy mindset can help you tackle every day with optimism. In a 2018 interview with Parade, White told the masses to start enjoying life. “Accentuate the positive, not the negative. It sounds so trite, but a lot of people will pick out something to complain about, rather than say, ‘Hey, that was great!’ It’s not hard to find great stuff if you look.”
And you don’t have to take Betty White’s word for it—studies have shown that a positive mindset directly and positively impacts older adults continuing personal growth and happiness.
7. Up your fruit and vegetable intake
Put down those chips… unless they’re kale chips, of course! While you don’t have to completely abandon your favourite highly processed foods, you should try to limit your intake. Instead, focus on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Eating more vegetables and fruit is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, will increase your fiber intake, and will help you meet all your nutritional needs. From vitamin A in carrots and pumpkins to folate and calcium in arugula, eating the rainbow will help keep you healthy no matter your age.
8. Build a community
Social isolation and loneliness have had a lot of air-time since the start of the pandemic. We started to see the negative effects of social isolation in people of all ages. According to Statistics Canada, more than 1 in 10 Canadians ages 15 and older said that they always or often felt lonely. And seniors are overrepresented—19% of Canadians over age 65 feel isolated from others.
Now is the time to start building a community that you can stay connected with for life. Whether you join a local community group or find an online community, it is important to have people who you can connect with regularly.
While they are not a guarantee, these 8 lifestyle changes can help get you that much closer to the Centenarian Club. You can make these changes at any age—it’s never too early or too late to start living a healthy lifestyle that will help you live well into your hundreds.
Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.
Other resources you may be interested in:
- Episode 1: Better than drinking from the fountain of youth (podcast)
- Episode 2: Is sleep the key to living a long life? (podcast)
- Episode 3: Can physical activity slow the decline of aging? (podcast)
- Episode 4: Aging, anxiety, and the effects of stress on the body (podcast)
- Episode 5: The power and science of building healthy habits (podcast)
- Episode 6: What does it mean to live a long, healthy life? (podcast)
- Episode 7: Is meditation the key to feeling youthful? (podcast)