Majority of Babies Will Live to 100—How Will They Do It?

Rising life expectancy means more of us will live not only longer but better through our senior years.

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Today, centenarian birthdays are still special enough to be announced by the Today show's Willard Scott. But they may not be by the next generation. Most babies born in the United States and Western Europe today are expected to live to 100 if we continue on the same trend of increased life expectancy, according to a study published in the journal Lancet. "Very long lives are not the distant privilege of remote future generations—very long lives are the probable destiny of most people alive now," wrote the study authors, who are from the Danish Aging Research Center.

According to their analysis of data from more than 30 developed countries, death rates are dropping among people over 80. And three quarters of babies born in these nations over the past decade can expect to live to 75. The researchers also hypothesized that we can live longer by extending our working lives and shortening our work weeks—say, by making a four-day workweek the norm.

Other studies have shown that we can take steps to live longer and better. For example, a recent British Medical Journal study shows that you can cut your risk of having a stroke in half by doing the following four things: being active for 30 minutes a day, eating five daily servings of fruit and vegetables, and avoiding cigarettes and excess alcohol.

Beyond those basic things, science has revealed that centenarians tend to share certain traits in how they eat, move about, and deal with stress—specific habits, like flossing and socializing with friends, that we can adopt to help slow aging. Certainly genes still play a role: Reaching 100 is enormously more likely if your parents did. But Thomas Perls, who studies centenarians at Boston University School of Medicine, believes that assuming you've sidestepped genes for truly fatal diseases like Huntington's, "there's nothing stopping you from living independently well into your 90s."

Even if you're not a baby, here are 10 habits to help you live to 100.