It’s believed that the next generation of children brought into the world will be the first people able to live to age 150.  As it is, it’s no longer considered unusual for people to make it past 100 and beyond.  This is a remarkable feat, considering that the life expectancy for men and women in the United States was half that just one hundred years ago.

Though the media often focuses on depressing statistics regarding obesity, cancer and other health issues that may shorten our lives, in truth we are living longer and healthier than ever before.  We often wonder about the “secret” to living happily to a ripe old age, but there is no secret–longevity is available to all of us, and it’s never too soon to start working towards it.

If you’ve ever heard stories about someone living to age 100 despite smoking, drinking and eating an unhealthy diet, take them with a grain of salt.  While it is possible to live a long life without taking good care of your health, you can usually thank genetics for that.  If most of your relatives lived to be very old, it’s likely you will as well, regardless of your health habits.  Family histories are the best indicators of what kind of health and physical issues you may face in your later years–pay especially close attention to any patterns of diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.

Good genes aside, there are steps you can take to increase your longevity, and they’re pretty much the same steps taken to remain in good health at any age.  Avoiding cigarettes, keeping alcohol consumption to a modest level, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in processed flours and sugars all lower your chances of developing illnesses common to the elderly.

Mental and emotional well-being is very important too—though stress, anger and general depression decreases as a person grows older, engaging in hobbies, remaining physically active and spending time with friends and family all help to ensure happy lives well into the senior years.  Now more than ever older people are being encouraged and given opportunities to continue enjoying life for as long as they’re able.  Who knows what the possibilities will be when it’s our turn?

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