Living to be one hundred may not be so unique in the near future. In fact, even chronic disease sufferers might have a shot. So says a new study out of the University of Rochester, proclaiming that diabetics and people with heart disease can also reach the centenarian mark.

The study, to be published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, interviewed over 500 women and 200 men who had reached 100 years old. Almost two thirds of the participants said they had avoided significant age-related ailments; however, the others had all had at least one significant age-related disease before the age of 39, but ended up functioning pretty well anyway, nearly as well as their disease-free peers.

Another larger study, conducted at Harvard, showed that men in their 70s who did not smoke, were not obese, were active, and free of diabetes or high blood pressure had a good chance of living well into their 90s with excellent physical and mental capacities. According to lead author, Dr. Laurel Yates of Havard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “It’s not just luck, it’s not just genetics…It’s lifestyle” that seems to make a big difference.

Yes! Yes! That’s it! Lifestyle habits determine how you function. Lifestyle habits are integral to the way you feel. Lifestyle habits preserve life. Go figure. I love when these studies come out, because they verify everything I’m trying to get across to you. It doesn’t mean you have to become Jack Lalanne; but practicing even two of the six keys to optimal health can have extraordinary benefits. In the Harvard study, they found that each risk factor decreased the chances of survival incrementally. So you must see that the opposite also applies: Every risk factor you eliminate, every healthy habit you adopt, will increase your level of health–and your life expectancy–incrementally as well.

But best of all is what the studies’ authors point out: It’s never to late to start. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits (and eliminating risk factors), even in to one’s 70s, can have positive, life-enhancing effects. Get it? Never too late! So I’ll let Dr. Yates finish it off with something I might have said myself, “Get your shoes on, get out there, and do some exercise,” she said. “These are some things you can do” to increase the chances of a long life. Amen, Sister.

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