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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Harvard Medical School researchers Thomas Perls and Margery Hutter Silver write that when they began their landmark study of centenarians seven years ago, they suspected that "contrary to popular perception, very old people were generally a hardy group." But what they found as they interviewed more than 100 people over the age of 100, studied their family history, and assessed their physical and mental health surprised even them: a group of healthy people full of vitality, creativity, resilience, and optimism. Perls and Silver write that their results confirm what many who study the science of aging have understood for years: Growing older does not necessarily mean growing sicker. In the U.S. alone there are currently more than 50,000 people over the age of 100, and the average life span and percentage of the population in later life are growing every day. In their new book, Living to 100, Perls and Silver detail the results of their groundbreaking study and share what they have learned about how to live long and well.
The personality trait most often found in common among the centenarians was an ability to deal well with emotional stress, a trait heralded by low levels of anxiety, hostility, and depression. Most also had a particularly well-developed sense of humor. Strong social support networks were also common, and most of the centenarians had remained active throughout their lives, ate "moderately and sensibly," and either abstained from alcohol or drank it in moderation. Ninety-nine percent did not meet the criteria for obesity. And while Perls and Silverconcludethat genetics do play an important role in life expectancy, they also believe it is possible to take full advantage of the longevity genes most of us have and to compensate for those we lack. In Living to 100, Perls and Silver recommend a series of lifestyle choices that address the major factors involved in aging well, including supplementing a basic healthy diet with antioxidants; "mental strength training" based on their finding that centenarians delay the onset of cognitive impairment by continually learning new things; preventive health measures including regular tests and exams and specific strategies for lowering the risk of life-shortening conditions like cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes; ways to protect hearing and eyesight; and regular exercise and stress-reduction techniques. They also include a life-expectancy calculator, a quiz that translates their findings about longevity into a practical tool readers can use to evaluate the factors that contribute to aging well.
Living to 100 is a practical book filled with advice on living a long and healthy life, but what makes it truly inspiring is the stories of lively, charismatic, and fascinating people over the age of 100 that fill its pages.