FRIDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Centenarians are more likely
to be content with their lives than aging baby boomers are, and
these oldest Americans tend to put more stock in healthy eating
habits and exercise as keys to happiness, a new survey finds.
Half of Americans aged 100 and older wouldn't change a thing
about the way they lived their lives, while only 29 percent of Baby
Boomers (aged 60 to 65) would leave their pasts untouched and 26
percent wished they had made more money. Baby boomers were also
more than twice as likely as centenarians to wish they had taken
more risks in their lives, 12 percent vs. 5 percent.
The average American today lives to be about 80, according to
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When asked
what could have made their extra 20 or more years even better, 33
percent of the centenarians said nothing, while 33 percent wished
for more time with their spouse or loved ones, 13 percent wished
for better health and only 6 percent wished they had more money,
according to the UnitedHealthcare's eighth annual 100@100
Nearly all centenarians (98 percent) said that keeping their
mind active is a secret to healthy aging, and 100 percent of baby
boomers agreed. Staying mobile and exercising is also important,
according to 96 percent of centenarians and 98 percent of the baby
Both age groups also agree that physical health is more
difficult to maintain as they age, compared with mental health,
emotional/spiritual health, social connections and
Many centenarians try to remain active. More than half said they
walk or hike weekly, more than one-third said they do strength
training exercises at least once a week, and nearly 20 percent do a
cardiovascular workout indoors one or more times a week.
Centenarians and baby boomers do differ on other healthy habits.
Centenarians are more likely than the boomers to eat nutritiously
balanced meals regularly (86 percent vs. 77 percent), to get more
than eight hours of sleep per night (66 percent vs. 54 percent),
and to attend a social event every day (37 percent vs. 28
Only 31 percent of centenarians said that maintaining one's sex
life is important for healthy aging, compared with 80 percent of
the boomers. Centenarians were also less likely than the boomers to
believe that it's very important to continue to look forward to
each day (72 percent vs. 88 percent) and to maintain a sense of
purpose (57 percent vs. 79 percent).
While 29 percent of centenarians said they expected to live to
100, only 21 percent of the boomers said they expect to reach the
same milestone. But a good number of them might make that goal. The
centenarian population in the United States is expected to grow to
more than 600,000 by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"The centenarians in this year's 100@100 survey show that
maintaining a positive outlook isn't all about focusing on what the
future holds," Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of
UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said in a company news
"Reflecting fondly and confidently on the choices they've made
throughout their lives helps the longest-living Americans maintain
a sense of satisfaction and well-being that's vital to healthy
aging," she said.
Young adulthood was the most fondly remembered time in
centenarians' lives (45 percent), despite challenges such as
balancing the demands of work and family. The second most fondly
remembered time in centenarians' lives was approaching their 100th
birthday (12 percent).
There were notable differences between the two groups in their
view of marriage or life partnership. Thirty-one percent of
centenarians and 19 percent of the boomers said that sharing the
same political views as your partner is very important, 40 percent
of centenarians and 22 percent of boomers said having the same
hobbies as your partner is very important, and 56 percent of
centenarians and 46 percent of boomers said sharing the same
religious faith as your partner is very important.
Only 49 percent of boomers said that it's very important to
maintain the traditional roles of husband and wife, compared with
67 percent of centenarians.
Both groups said that friends and family have the biggest impact
on their lives and provide them with the most support. Staying
close to friends and family is a secret to healthy aging for 97
percent of centenarians and 99 percent of boomers, and more than
one-third of centenarians said they've maintained a friendship for
more than 75 years.
The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines
good health habits for those age 60 and