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Is 100 The New 50? Centenarians Advise Boomers


Those who have lived to be 100 have some advice for you young whipper-snappers in your 50s who want to reach the century mark: Sleep longer and eat a more healthful diet.

That's the finding from Unitedhealthcare's annual "100@100 Survey," which for the first time looked not only at the century-old group, but also at boomers age 50 to 55.

As of 2010, the Census Bureau estimates there are 72,000 Americans who have lived 100 years or more. By 2050, the aging of the baby boom generation will bring that number to more than 600,000.

The survey found that in some ways, those at the century mark are very similar to those who are halfway there: Both age groups are equally dedicated to maintaining health through daily exercise, following some form of spiritual activity and being socially active.

Nearly 90 percent of both boomers and centenarians say they talk with a family member or friend every day; just over half of centenarians and about 60 percent of boomers say they exercise daily; and about 67 percent of 100-year-olds and 60 percent of the 50-somethings say they engage in spiritual activities, such as praying or meditating.

Among centenarians, nearly 45 percent cite walking as their favorite physical activity and 40 percent do exercises to strengthen their muscles.

Both age groups are nearly as likely to attend a social event (26 percent of boomers vs. 24 percent of centenarians) and find something amusing enough to make them laugh or giggle (87 percent of boomers vs. 80 percent of centenarians) nearly every day.

The biggest health difference between them is in sleep and diet.

About 71 percent of centenarians say they get eight or more hours a night, compared to only 38 percent of boomers, and more than 80 percent of the 100-year-olds say they consistently eat nutritiously balanced meals, compared to only 68 percent of boomers.

On the other hand, both groups completely agree on the celeb they would most like to invite to family dinner.

When researchers asked survey participants to pick their ideal dinner guest from a list of 14 notables, including Presidents Obama and Bush, actor Tom Hanks and singer Paul McCartney, both 100-year-olds and 50-year-olds voted for the same 90-year-old star: Betty White.

In other health news:

Moderate exercise may reduce breast cancer risk after menopause. The Los Angeles Times reports that new research on the benefits of exercise on breast cancer risk suggests that even moderate levels of physical activity - during childbearing years or after menopause - may reduce breast cancer risk, but weight gain in later life may negate some of the benefits.

Statins may be more effective in men at warding off strokes, death. Cholesterol-lowering drugs are just as effective at preventing heart problems in men and women who have already had a heart attack or stroke, according to a new review of the evidence. However, the combination of data from 11 smaller trials didn't show a clear benefit when it came to warding off strokes or deaths from any cause in women, Reuters reports.

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