How do you breeze into your 90s in tip-top shape? Researchers and nonagenarians (that's what you call a 90-something) alike, say it comes down to much more than just luck. The Belfast Nonagenarian Study, which was released last year, recruited a group of "elite" nonagenarians who have managed to sail into their 90s with supremely good health.
Along with looking at their DNA and family histories, they also asked the super-agers themselves what they believed had helped them live such long, healthy lives. Their analysis managed to narrow it down to four main factors that really play a role in how many birthdays you get to celebrate.
1. Genetics and maintaining good health.
Many of the elite agers said good genes helped them live so long. The study did find that many of the subjects had fewer genes that are associated with heart disease -- the number one killer of men and women.
Interestingly enough, four British sisters reached a combined age of 391, ranging from 93 to 101, only last year. And there have been numerous instances of long-living twins, and in 2014 five siblings won the Guinness World Record for reaching 100! What's interesting is that their mother had also lived past 100.
The world's oldest yoga teacher is still doing her sun salutations at 97 and she says maintaining healthy eating habits has been important. Tao Porchon-Lynch has said portion size helps her manage her weight. "Most people overeat and put too much food on their plate. Pause a moment to think about how many people are without food, and you won’t eat so much," she said in an interview last year.
Senior athlete Fred Winter who's still doing 100 push-ups everyday follows elements of the Mediterranean Diet, trying to eat blueberries and salmon every single week. The diet, which is rich in age-fighting compounds like anti-oxidants and heart-healthy omega-3s, has been shown in studies to stave off certain diseases and even help one live longer, by protecting DNA against damage.
3. Staying social and positive.
A big part of aging really is all in your head. As cliche as it may sound, nonagenarians prove you are only as old as you feel. And it's easy to see why. After all, a positive mindset can help you manage stress, which in turn can protect your health.
"I’ve been active all my life. I spend no time thinking what I can’t do ... When you wake up in the morning, know that it’s going to be the best day of your life," Porchon-Lynch said last year.
The oldest-serving nurse in the U.S. is also in her 90s and still is pursuing her passion by helping people, which she says has brought her lifelong joy.
4. Staying fit and active.
This one's about more than just maintaining your health. Keeping fit actually does wonders for your brain. Exercise helps lower stress, regulates your blood sugar and improves blood flow.
Winters says he starts his day with at least 30 minutes of aerobics bright and early every morning, starting at 6 a.m.
British nonagenarian, Charles Eugster, says he only took up exercise in his 80s but now runs competitively. He works out at least three times a week, doing weights, running and rowing, which has resulted in what he likes to call his "beach body."