The Goods

Live longer with these surprising ways to reach 100

Want to join the centenarian club? Here are some tips to increase your longevity.
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More and more Canadians are reaching the ripe old age of 100. If you want to join the centenarian club, there are some surprising ways to do it. Want to know how? We're breaking down some health claims to see if they're the secret to living longer.

You're more likely to celebrate a 100th birthday if you love being the centre of attention.

TRUE! According to a recent Swedish study, outgoing people outlast introverts. Researchers say extroverts describe themselves as less stressed – that's due in part to having lower levels of cortisol. A study of centenarians showed that most had strong social networks. Some scientists have even said that a person's shyness level could affect their health.

The faster your heart beats, the more likely it'll keep ticking till you're 100!

FALSE! Doctors say a slower pulse means your heart doesn't have to work as hard and could last longer. Ideally your heart should beat 15 times in 15 seconds. That equates to 60 beats per minute or how many times a healthy heart beats at rest. Most people have resting rates between 60 and 100 beats per minute – though the closer to the lower end of the spectrum, the healthier.

Here's a breathing exercise to help slow down you heartbeat: Try breathing through a straw. Take deep long breaths to help you breathe more deeply – which can also improve your lung function and lower your blood pressure.

If your mom had you before she was 25, you're more likely than others to live to see a century.

TRUE! If your mom was under age 25 when she gave birth to you, you're twice as likely to live to 100 as someone born to an older mom, according to University of Chicago scientists. They suspect that younger moms' best eggs go first to fertilization, thus producing healthier offspring.

Women who wait until their 40s to have kids are more likely to live to 100 than younger mothers.

TRUE! While it might be harder for them to get pregnant, studies show women who have children in their 40s seem to be more likely to live to 100 than women who have children earlier in life.

It won't be physically possible for all women, and that's the point. If a woman has not yet entered menopause in her 40s, she likely has the anti-aging genes required to make it to that 100th birthday.

Getting down on the dance floor will help to keep you on your toes until age 100.

TRUE! Doctors in Britain say dancing on the regular can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.They also say that it can help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The dips, turns and side-to-side movements make good use of muscles and joints, and help flexibility and balance, making falls less likely.

If you want to reach the big 1-0-0 you should have an orgasm each time you have sex or self-pleasure.

FALSE! No need to reach that peak every time. As long as you're having sex, you're increasing your chances of lasting longer in life. A large Welsh study on longevity found that those who had sex less than once a month had double the risk of dying prematurely than those who had sex twice a week.

Aside from the health benefits, a study by the Royal Edinburgh hospital suggests couples with a healthy sex life can also look up to seven years younger – possibly because sex reduces stress, leading to greater contentment and better sleep. Centenarians are still having sex too, but in a survey only 4 percent of them said maintaining their sex life was "very important."

Vegetarians are proven to live longer than meat eaters.

TRUE! (But with a caveat) A study in Australia found that while vegetarians do live longer than meat eaters, it isn't because of their diet. According to researchers, it's because vegetarians tend to live healthier lifestyles – so they are more likely to exercise more and not smoke. And while there is unclear evidence a vegetarian diet promotes longevity, studies have shown other health benefits. For example, a vegetarian diet has been associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

If you want to live to see 100, marry someone younger than you.

TRUE! Marrying someone quite younger than you can increase your odds of lasting to 100. And this rings true mostly for men. According to a Danish study, men in a same-sex marriage have a lower mortality rate than single or divorced straight men. A study looked at the marital history of centenarians and found that of 100+year-old men who had younger wives – most were widowers who remarried women who were at least 10 years younger.

Female centenarians also found a spark for life with younger men. According to the last Canadian census, there are 500 women centenarians for every 100 men. A 100-year-old British woman credits her 68-year-old husband – yes, he's 32 years younger than her! – with keeping her young at heart.

Buying a sports car will have you zooming well into old age.

TRUE! A Concordia University study suggested buying a luxury vehicle can help you live longer. It found a new sports car will boost an older man's testosterone levels, versus a regular sedan. Lower testosterone has been linked with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression. The researchers report that seniors with low hormone readings are 33 percent more likely to die prematurely than those with higher levels.

People who are stuck in traffic often are less likely to reach 100.

TRUE! According to a new German study, patients who suffered from heart attacks were three times more likely to have been in traffic shortly before symptoms began. While the exact link can't yet be determined, scientists hypothesize that the combination of air pollution from oncoming cars and stress could increase the risk of a heart attack.

If you want to make it to 100, forget napping! Just sleep when you're dead.

FALSE! A mid-day snooze can help extend your life. Taking a siesta is common in the Greek island of Ikaria – which has been identified as one of the world's "blue zones" where people live measurably longer lives than everyone else. The Ikarians in Greece have 10 times the amount of people that reach 100 compared to the United States.

Having a housekeeper will help lengthen your life.

FALSE! Just by vacuuming, mopping floors, or washing windows for a little more than an hour, the average person can burn about 285 calories and lower risk of death by 30%, according to a study of 302 adults in 80 and over.

Burying yourself in gardening can help keep you above ground for 100 years or more.

TRUE! Japan has the most centenarians in the world per capita and most 100-year-olds there all have a shared hobby – gardening! It's a source of daily physical activity that exercises the body with a wide range of motion and helps reduce stress. It's also a near-constant source of fresh vegetables. Another longevity secret of the Japanese – it's said they eat until they are 80% full.