How can I live up to 100 years?

Who doesn’t want to live up to 100 years with a high quality of life and disease-free?  

If this is an objective for the reader of this article, please keep tuned because we are going to explain how to raise the odds to reach that goal. Warning: nothing that will be said is a newness. Just a brief scientific review to motivate you to follow this Elixir of Life.

To reach high levels of quality of life, we should understand this as a multifactorial task. There are some factors that we can control (modifiable factors), others that we can’t (non-modifiable factors). As the non-modifiable, the main ones are genetics, age, and sex; Regarding the modifiable ones, we should highlight physical activity, as well as nutrition, sedentarism and emotional control. (1) 

As we mentioned before, and because of the fact it’s not an isolated factor, physical activity per se is not enough to guarantee quality of life… still, is something we can have full control. It’s described and proved that sedentarism increases the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and depression. On the other hand, high levels of physical activity reduce the risk of chronic conditions and diseases. (2,3,4) 

Studies verify that the elderly who had followed a medium intensity exercise program had positive outcomes in quality-of-life levels, mainly in physical function, emotional, mental, social and pain control. (5) Grant et al concluded that aerobic exercise programs in populations aged 50 years and over, lead to increases in levels of oxygenation, maximum heart rate and fatigue tolerance. (6)  

We must point out that the association between physical activity levels and emotional control has been consolidated with the most recent research, mainly in individuals who have experienced anxiety or depression. Leisure physical activity is more likely to be an optimal domain to promote mental health and is more due to maintain physical activity. The exercises must always meet the patients’ preferences. (8) 

Frailty is described as a state of physiological vulnerability with diminished capacity to manage external factors. According to Freids, the combination of one the following 3 factors indicates Frailty: fatigue, unexplained weight loss, slowness, weakness and low physical activity. GP’s screenings use this term much more often nowadays since Frailty is an indicator of multiple diseases. It’s much more associated to biological age than chronological age. A combination of strength exercises and protein supplementation is the most effective and easiest way to implement intervention to delay or reverse frailty. (7) 

To sum up, we can conclude that there are no secrets to reaching the age of 100 years old… it’s the perfect symbiosis between our genetic code and our behaviour towards the modifiable factors that were mentioned. Having a balanced nutrition and physical activity program is essential promote active ageing and reach the quality of life we all wish and look forward to. Don’t forget: consistency is key. As Physiotherapists, we have the tools to prescribe physical activity programs and we promote an active lifestyle. At the end of the day, no one likes to be treated as an elder but as a very experienced and aged adult! 

Author: João Pereira Physiotherapist at CMM – Brentford.
20/12/2021

  1. Magalhães, Fernanda (2014). Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases among nursing professionals: strategies for health promotion.
  2. Oja, Pekka; Borms, Jan. (2004) Health enhancing physical activity.Meyer & Meyer Sport. Oxford
  3. Laaksonen, D. et al (2005). Physical Activity in the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes: The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study. Diabetes,
  4. R Hambrecht; C Walther; S Mobius-Winkler (2004). Percutaneous coronary angioplasty compared with exercise training in patients with stable coronary artery disease. A randomized trial.
  5. Acree, L et al (2006). Physical activity is related to quality of life in older adults.
  6. Grant et al (2002). Comparison of physiological responses and rating of perceived exertion in two models of aerobic exercise in men and women over 50 years of age. Br J Sports Med.
  7. Travers, J.; Romero-Ortuno, R.; Bailey, J.; Cooney, Marie-Therese (2018). Delaying and reversing frailty: a systematic review of primary care interventions. British Journal of General Practice.
  8. White, Rhiannon Lee; Babic, Mark J.; Parker, Philip D.; Lubans, David R.; Astell-Burt, Thomas; Lonsdale, Chris (2017). Domain-Specific Physical Activity and Mental Health: A Meta-analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
  9. Fried LP, Tangen CM, Watson J, et al (2001). Frailty in older adults: evidence for a phenotype. J GerontABiol Sci Med Sci.
  10. Turner G, Clegg A. (2014). Best practice guidelines for the management of frailty: a British Geriatrics Society, Age UK and Royal College of General Practitioners report. Age Ageing.
  11. Morley JE, VellasB, van Kan GA, et al (2013). Frailty consensus: a call to action. J Am Med Dir Assoc

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