HOW TO LIVE TO BE A HUNDRED
For adults who remain physically childlike in old age, there has to be a sustained enthusiasm for some aspect of life. People who want a long life with an alert old age should never retire. If they are forcibly retired, they should immerse themselves in some new, absorbing activity.
Some people are naturally more physically active than others, and are at a considerable advantage, providing their activities are not the result of stress. Such activities as walking and gardening prolong life spectacularly because they are ‘non-intensive’ forms of all-over bodily movement. The more earnest ageing exercisers display a conscious or unconscious anxiety about their health. If they take exercise too seriously, it will work against them.
Older individuals who take up intensive athletic activity are usually people who fear declining health. Yet, it is crucial that physical exercise – as we grow past the young spoilsman stage – should be extensive rather than intensive and, above all, fun.
A calm temperament favours longevity. Those who are sharply aggressive, emotionally explosive or naggingly anxious are at a grave disadvantage. But it is important to make a distinction between calmly relaxed and passively lazy. Relaxation does not contradict the idea of passionate interest. Indeed, zest for living, eagerness to pursue chosen subjects are vital in long life.
Thinking about ‘the good old days’, complaining about how the world is deteriorating, criticising the younger generations are sure signs of an early funeral. Being successful is a great life-stretcher, and can even override such life-shorteners as obesity and fondness for drink. But, in gaining success, individuals should not overstress themselves.
And success must always be measured in personal terms. A hill-shepherd may feel just as successful in
his own way as a Nobel Laureate.
Long-lived individuals seem to be more concerned with what they do than who they are. They live outside themselves rather than dwelling on their own personalities. In personal habits, the long-lived are generally moderate. Extremes of diet are not common.
A mixed diet seems to favour longevity. Puritanical arguments about smoking and drinking have little to support them. Many long-lived individuals enjoy nicotine and alcohol – in moderation.
Most long-lived people have a sense of self-discipline. That does not imply a harsh military-style masochism, but the ordering of life and the imposition of a pattern on the events of the day. The man who lives long because he walks a mile a day does so because he does it every day, as part of an organised existence.
Over and over, during my researches, it emerged that long life goes with a ‘twinkle in the eye’. A sense of humour, impishness, a feeling that life is fun, are strong weapons against ageing. The sour-faced puritan and the solemn bore soon begin to lose ground, leaving their more amused contemporaries to enjoy the last laugh.
Most important of all, we should always keep in mind that nothing is to be gained by a head-in-the-sand avoidance of the facts of life and death. The healthiest solution is to accept that one’s span on Earth is limited and then to live every day, in the present, and to the full.
TEN TIPS TO BE A HUNDRED
Mark the best choice.
1. Retirement is not recommended because .
a) it keeps you alert in old age
b) it may take away the enthusiasm of life
c) other activities can never replace a real job
d) people who retire become physically active
2. Non-intensive forms of physical activity .
a) display an unconscious anxiety about one’s health
b) become less popular as people get older
c) contribute to longevity to a great extent
d) work against the people who do them
3. People with a calm temperament .
a) are usually aggressive and emotionally explosive
b) are usually lazy and don’t have many interests
c) may live longer than anxious ones
d) have a stronger zest for living
4. may cause an early death.
a) Being happy with one’s present status
b) Lack of interest in world affairs
c) Getting on with young people
d) Thinking too much about the past
5. A life-stretcher is .
a) anything that allows you to live longer
b) a kind of activity that you are fond of
c) something that can never be measured
d) something that causes too much stress