NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Americans are living longer — a lot longer — and evidently loving it.
According to the US. Census Bureau, there are 53,364 U.S. citizens age 100 and older. There are also 330 “super-centenarians” — Americans alive and kicking over the age of 110. Members of the century club are predominantly white (82 percent) and female (80 percent).
Americans are definitely living longer; the Census Bureau recorded only 32,000 100-year-olds-or-older in 1980, compared with 53,000 in 2010. The bureau says that more than 600,000 centenarians will be around by 2050.
Ever wonder what the secret is to making to the century club?
For starters, don’t look back on your life with regret, says a survey from Minnetonka, Minn.-based United Healthcare.
The health care firm asked 100 U.S. 100-year-olds what they would change about the way they lived their lives, and 50 percent said “nothing at all.”
Contrast that with 60- to 65-year-olds; only 29 percent say they would change nothing about their lives. That positive attitude among centenarians goes a long way in explaining why they’re living longer.
“The centenarians in this year’s 100@100 survey show that maintaining a positive outlook isn’t all about focusing on what the future holds,” says Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer at United Healthcare. “Reflecting fondly and confidently on the choices they’ve made throughout their lives helps the longest-living Americans maintain a sense of satisfaction and well-being that’s vital to healthy aging.”
Consider some other takeaways from the study:
- 33 percent of 100-year-olds say they wished they’d spent more time with their loved ones, while 13 percent expressed a desire for “better health.” Just 6 percent wanted “more money” in their life.
- 29 percent of 100-year-olds say they “expected” to live until the century mark. Only 21 percent of baby boomers expect to live to 100.
- A whopping 98 percent of centenarians say “keeping their mind active” is a huge key to a long, healthy life, a theme echoed by 100 percent of 60- to 65-year-olds.
- 96 percent of 100-year-olds say keeping fit physically is a big reason they lived so long, and 98 percent of baby boomers agree with the principle. More than 50 percent of centenarians walk or hike on a weekly basis, while 33 percent engage in some form on strength-training on a weekly basis.
- Only 31 percent of 100-year-olds say maintaining a healthy sex life is a key to a longer life, but 80 percent of boomers say a vibrant sex life is necessary for “healthy aging.”
- 86 percent of centenarians say eating nutritionally was a big factor in their making it to age 100, while 66 percent say getting regular sleep is a big factor in living longer.
Most people who make it to the century club say they look forward to every day and try to engage in at least one social activity daily.
The United Healthcare study is required reading for Americans looking for the keys to a longer, healthier life. Find it here.