How to Live to Be 100
Someone once said that the secret to a long and happy life is having a big, caring family – in another city.
It’s a funny one-liner, but according to the newest social science research, it’s not true.
In fact, many experts argue that social isolation is today’s greatest public health crisis. One out of every four people in the developed world reports they have no one to talk to. Online socializing now consumes an average of 11 hours of our time per day. That’s more time than most of us spend sleeping or working.
Not only do these habits make us unhappy. They shorten our life.
Researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, at Brigham Young University, has spent years investigating the elements that predict longevity. She theorizes that face-to-face “social integration” is the major correlate to a long life. In-person human exchange says more about how long you’ll live than diet, exercise, or even routine medical care.
While long-lasting relationships certainly contribute to emotional health, Holt-Lunstad says the social integration that extends life can be far less intimate – something as simple as some conversation with the guy who makes your coffee at Starbucks, sharing a laugh with the clerk at your neighborhood grocery store, even exchanging hellos with strangers you encounter during the course of your day.
The point is not so much to have deep attachments as to stay face-to-face connected to people around you. At every stage of life.
Here’s a list of the Top 10 Predictors of Living to 100, starting with the least and ending with the most important…
- Living in a clean air environment
- Not having hypertension, or controlling it with medication
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Regular exercise
- Not having experienced a cardiac event
- Having an annual flu vaccine
- Not drinking alcohol (or having quit)
- Not smoking (or having quit)
- At least 3 close relationships (i.e., people you can turn to no matter when or why)
- Social integration – how much time you spend interacting with people in your daily life.
So your annual flu shot is more vital to longevity than staying thin! Go figure.