What do those who live to be 100 years have in common?

Iris Apfel, photo: H&M

Although the secret to eternal youth remains unknown, researchers have discovered many common characteristics of those who live to a respectable hundred. To do this, they visited a number of cultures around the world known for their longevity. Wondering what they have in common?

If you want to celebrate a centenary, you need a good amount of luck. And not only that, centenarians also have a number of good habits in common that will come in handy even before the age of one hundred. Check.

Good genes

If at least one of your parents lived to the age of 95 or more, then you have a good predisposition that you will too. This was proven by a study published in 2017 in The American Journal of Cardiology. Those whose parents lived to old age had a lower chance of developing high blood pressure, as well as a lower risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Much also depends on hereditary predispositions to diseases, which are an important factor in longevity.

Photo: Unsplash/Peter Conlan

Physical activity

A large proportion of those who live to such a high age are physically active throughout their lives, even into old age. According to the National Institutes of Health, just two and a half hours of exercise per week extends life by 3.4 years. Longevity is very common in heavily rural areas, where people spend their whole lives physically working in the fields, and less often occupying offices. Regular physical activity has a beneficial effect on the vascular system, it is best to incorporate it into your lifestyle wherever possible. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator, cultivate the garden or take your dog for a walk in the fresh air every day.


Residents of places with a number of centenarians have something else in common. These people do not overeat, they eat with their heads. They rarely eat alone, most often in the company of friends and family. In Okinawa, Japan, one of the villages with the most centenarians, there is a saying "Hara hachi bu" which means you only eat until your stomach is 80 percent full. Villagers consume 1,900 calories per day, unlike Westerners who consume twice as much.

Photo: Unsplash/Brooke Lark

Healthy food

Although the eating habits of the centenarians in the area differ, you will look in vain for foods with a lot of fat or sugar on their menus. In Sardinia, the inhabitants eat a Mediterranean diet full of fish, fruits, vegetables and vegetable oils. Often the foods are locally grown, which is an added plus. Even in Okinawa, they eat a little fish and a lot of vegetables and legumes, tofu and even seaweed.


In these areas, the elderly are often an integral part of the community, which contributes to their inclusion and banishes loneliness. When researchers interviewed centenarians, they discovered that they are closely connected with friends and family members, and it is precisely for the sake of social connection that they remain vital and healthy until they are a hundred years old. The American Heart Association and Cancer found in a study that social connection helps to recover faster after an illness.

Photo: Unsplash/Oppo Find


A big factor the researchers found in the study is respect. Centenarians in these parts of the world feel respected by the community.

Fresh air

The interviewed centenarians spend a lot of time outdoors. The air they breathe is clean and fresh, which contributes to their well-being and longevity. If you spend a lot of time outside your apartment, in the fresh air, you get larger amounts of vitamin D, which is formed in our body in connection with UV-B rays. In addition, we are more active outdoors, we move more and we are in contact with nature.

Photo: Unsplash/Tiago Muraro

They found their mission

In these communities, each individual has a place, even if that means taking care of grandchildren or participating in local crafts. In Okinawa, residents thus participate in traditional knitting classes, which keeps them productive members of society.


They have something else in common, a positive outlook on the world. When faced with a problem, they calm down and remain optimistic.

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