To help you answer this question for yourself, try (honestly) answering the following queries:
1. Do I consistently eat a balanced diet complete with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates?
The connection between sound nutritional choices and good health has been scientifically proven countless times, but this message appears to have had more of an impact on the most long-lived members of our society than on those we consider to be ‘middle-aged.' 80 percent of centenarians reported that they maintain a healthy diet almost daily, while only 68 percent of boomers were able to agree with that same statement.
2. Do I get eight hours of sleep every night?
Catching zs for the recommended seven or eight hours each night has been linked to many positive health outcomes such as: reduced levels of stress, better cardiovascular health, and a decreased risk for depression. Yet only 38 percent of boomers say they get those eight hours, compared to 70 percent of centenarians.
3. How often do you laugh?
If your answer is daily, then keep up the good work. The survey indicated that, while boomers do laugh more, most of the members of the 100-year-old club also reported appreciating the lighter side of life. 87 percent of boomers said they chuckled at least once a day versus 80 percent of centenarians.
4. Do you exercise regularly?
Though the majority of centenarians say that they exercise almost daily, boomers do have them beat—but only by a slim margin (59 percent of boomers versus 51 percent of centenarians). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults try to get a minimum of about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week. This amount is thought to be sufficient to reap the numerous benefits attributed to regular physical activity, including: reduced cancer and type 2 diabetes risk, better cardiovascular health, stronger muscles and bones, and a longer lifespan.
5. What do you do for exercise?
Both age groups reported that physical health was the most important, yet most difficult, aspect of health to maintain as a person gets older. How do the oldest elders work out? Many cited walking (44 percent) and engaging in muscle strengthening exercises (41 percent) as their go-to methods of staying in shape. One curious finding in the realm of physical fitness was that more centenarians than boomers said that they supplemented their work-out regimes with mind/body/spirit activities such as Yoga, or Tai chi.
6. Do you regularly communicate with friends and family?
The same number (89 percent) of boomers and centenarians claimed that they engage in regular communication and with their family and friends, lending further credence to the connection between a strong social support group and good health.
So, are you really healthier than a 100-year-old?
Handling healthy habit blockers
Time, energy, illness and money are often the most commonly cited barriers to leading a healthy lifestyle.
Interestingly, even though the elderly are sometimes viewed as being sicker, more tired, and more financially strained than their younger counterparts, the survey found that fewer centenarians than boomers said that their ailments or purse strings got in the way of them leading a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, only 15 percent of centenarians claimed that they were too tired to make good choices on how to be healthier—a figure not too much larger than the 10 percent of boomers who said the same thing.