When it comes to happy and healthy aging, lifestyle is more important than genetics. Recent studies have revealed that genetics may account for as little as 7% to 10% of lifespan. And when it comes to health span, the number of years in which a person is generally in good health, genes are even less important.
Our future health and wellbeing are not predetermined by our DNA. It’s determined daily by the lifestyle that we make.
That’s why Growing Bolder has always been fascinated by active nonagenarians and centenarians — men and women in their 90s and 100s who are still living with passion and purpose and have a quality of life that they enjoy. We call them our Rock Stars of Aging® and over the years we’ve interviewed more than 1,000 of them to learn what we can about active longevity.
Three Reasons You Should Care About the Rock Stars of Aging®
1. They Didn’t Win the Genetic Lottery
Living to an active 100 is more of a lifestyle choice than a genetic blessing.
2. They Are in Relatively Good Overall Health
Most don’t suffer from the multiple chronic illnesses that are typically associated with age until shortly before dying. Gerontologists call this “compressed morbidity.”
3. They are a Diverse Group Living Lifestyles That We Can Model
Rock Stars of Aging vary widely in years of education, socioeconomic status, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, diet, and genetics. They not only prove that there’s an opportunity for just about anyone to dramatically improve the length and quality of his or her life, but they also provide a pathway to get there.
Six Traits Shared by the Rock Stars of Aging
1. They Adapt and Accommodate
If there’s a universal experience among the very old, it’s continual loss. If we live long enough, we eventually lose friends, family, and some of our vision, hearing, and mobility. Rock Stars of Aging let go of what’s lost and find joy in what remains. They mourn and move on.
2. They Have a Powerful Sense of Purpose
The Japanese believe that everyone has an ikigai — a reason for being. The French call it a raison d’être. Having something that gets you out of bed every morning is essential as we age. Passion and purpose fuel the life force required for active longevity.
3. They Live in and Enjoy the Present
Rock Stars of Aging don’t live in the past, eliminating regret, and they don’t worry about the future, reducing stress. They are all about the here and now, finding joy in which more than one has described as “life’s little blessings.”
4. They’re Socially Active
Most Rock Stars of Aging live independently until the age of 90 but they’re not hermits. They have great families and good friends. Almost all communicate with a friend or family member daily.
5. They’re Physically Active
Rock Stars of Aging live surprisingly active lifestyles. Almost all engage in some form of daily physical activity – walking, gardening, fishing, biking, lifting weights, even competing in organized sports.
6. They’re Mentally Active
The adage “use it or lose it” is especially true when it comes to our brains. Rock Stars of Aging are lifelong learners with a nearly insatiable appetite for learning.
Rock Stars of Aging are people of all kinds who teach us that everything we do today will influence the quality of life that we’ll lead in the future.
This article is featured in the Fall 2023 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.