These two things may help you live a long life

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A recent study at the University of Otago found that not smoking and being socially engaged throughout older age are common traits of New Zealand centenarians.

Being socially active means physically going out of your home and away from families and interacting with people whether that is visiting friends, volunteering, or participating in activities such as attending a concert or playing golf.

The findings suggest people can have some control over the aging process.

The leader of the study is Associate Professor Yoram Barak.

In the study, the team set out to test the factors linked to exceptionally healthy extreme old age.

They examined data from 292 centenarians who were free of common chronic diseases such as diabetes, depression, dementia, and high blood pressure.

As of 2011, there are estimated to be between 400 to 500 centenarians living in New Zealand. Of these, fewer than 40 would be aged over 105. The mean age of those interviewed in the study was 101.

The centenarians were more likely to be female (75%) and in any age group, women were more likely to be free of the common chronic diseases outlined above.

The team also examined information relating to a further 103,377 older people aged over 60. All of these people were living in private accommodation in the community and not in aged residential care.

They found the social engagement of participants, whereby they are participating in social activities of long-standing interest was similar across all age groups.

Rates of depression and diabetes declined steadily with increasing age and rates of dementia declined after the age of 80. High blood pressure rates increased by nearly 30% from age 60 to 100 years.

The team also found among those surveyed, the highest physical activity groups were at the lowest risk of dementia.

The study shows higher rates of centenarians free of common chronic diseases in New Zealand than reported in other countries.

The team says genetic factors, certain geographical locations, and life-style characteristics may all play important roles in exceptional longevity.

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