How to live to 120 years old

Scientists believe that in years to come, more people will live to celebrate their 120th birthday. What are the secrets of living long and well?

Some of the world’s leading researchers say the time is fast approaching when more and more men and women will live well past 100 years.

The UK’s Longevity Science Panel believes while it will be some time before a single anti-ageing drug will be available – there’s no magic bullet on the horizon – there are things we can do now to live better for longer.

Play tennis and swim

A British study of 80,000 men and women found those who lived longest shared some common interests, such as playing tennis. People who played regularly had a 47 per cent lower risk of dying than people who didn’t step on to the tennis court.

Swimmers also lived longer – they were 41 per cent less likely to die from heart disease and stroke than people who stayed out of the water.

Fast regularly

Intermittent fasting means that for a certain number of hours or days a week you eat less and then return to a balanced diet before fasting again.

British scientist Dr Michael Mosley, creator of the 5:2 Diet, is a fan of fasting. Dr Mosley says the benefits for living longer are that it helps weight control, improves blood pressure and cholesterol level and improves insulin sensitivity which is important to avoid diabetes.

Take statins if your GP says you need them

About 2.2 million Australians take statins that lower cholesterol and help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Statins have sometimes been controversial, with concerns about side effects such as muscle aches.

But a Stanford University study says people with hardened arteries who take higher-strength statins are 40 per cent less likely to die than people at risk of heart disease who don’t take the drug.

Have a coffee

People who have a coffee a day, caffeinated or decaffeinated, are 12 per cent less likely to die prematurely than non-coffee drinkers. They have less risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease, with the risk dropping by 18 per cent with two or three daily coffees.

Coffee contains a blend of antioxidants that may help fight disease.

Get married

Marrieds have a five per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who are single, and researchers think this is because marriage brings emotional and physical support, so people take better care of themselves.

“Married people can look after each other, making sure their spouse eats healthy, exercises regularly and takes medication as prescribed,” says Dr Jeffrey Berger, a US cardiologist and researcher. Being married also seems to boost mental health, with lower rates of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Have children

Sometimes it may feel like children are driving you to an early grave, but Swedish research suggests the opposite. At the age of 60, men with children can expect to live almost two years longer than men without children, and mothers outlive women without children by about 18 months.

Researchers think this is because as parents get older, their children step in and help them better manage the challenges that come with ageing.

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