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50+: Live Better, Longer

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10 Healthy Aging Tips From Centenarians

Relationships, an Active Mind, Humor Make the List in Centenarian Poll
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 29, 2008 -- Staying close to family and friends, keeping your mind active, and having a sense of humor are keys to healthy aging, centenarians say in a new poll.

The poll, conducted by phone, included 100 U.S. centenarians. Here are their top 10 tips for healthy aging -- along with the percentage of how many said the tip is "very important" (they could call more than one tip "very important"):

  • Stay close to your family and friends: 90%
  • Keep your mind active: 89%
  • Laugh and have a sense of humor: 88%
  • Stay in touch with your spirituality: 84%
  • Continue looking forward to each new day: 83%
  • Keep moving and exercising: 82%
  • Maintain a sense of independence: 81%
  • Eat right: 80%
  • Keep up with news and current events: 63%
  • Keep making new friends: 63%

"If I could leave any message, never stop learning. Period," centenarian Maurice Eisman says in the poll report.

"I think the worst thing is stress, and you can avoid a lot of it by the way you manage your life," adds 102-year-old Marianne Crowder of Palo Alto, Calif.

Some of the centenarians -- who were actually as young as 99 -- have picked up some modern ways: 19% use cell phones, 12% have used the Internet, 3% say they've dated someone they met online, and 45% could identify 2005 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood.

When asked to pick a favorite celebrity to invite to a "fantasy dinner party," Bill Cosby was their top pick, followed by Tiger Woods and Oprah Winfrey. Britney Spears and Howard Stern were their least favorite choices; most knew who Spears and Stern are.

GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media polled the centenarians by phone in April and May for Evercare, a health care coordination program for the elderly and people with long-term or advanced illnesses or disabilities. Because the poll only included centenarians in good health, the results may not apply to everyone in that age range.

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