The odds of hitting 100 are greater than ever before.

Luck and genetics play a big role, but advances in health, education, and disease prevention and treatments have also contributed to our increased longevity.

Life expectancy in Australia has improved dramatically for both sexes, with those born in 2011 expected to live 33 years longer than those born 100 years ago.

Over the past 20 years, the number of centenarians has increased by 263 per cent.

ABS data shows that in the 12 months to June 30, 2014, the number of people aged 100 and over increased by 490 people to reach 4000 (3200 women and 880 men).

There are, however, challenges ahead.

Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia.

More than 900,000 Australians suffer from type 2 diabetes, a disease largely preventable through a healthy diet and exercise.

Along with cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease, diabetes accounts for nearly two-thirds of all deaths.

That’s why lifestyle, dietary and changes are so important to ensure you live long and live well.

It can be as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting out soft drinks.

Making the choice to walk and catch public transport rather than driving the car to work.

Eating meat sparingly and cutting back on sugar and alcohol, along with regular health checks and flossing your teeth are also lifesavers.

Here are 100 ways to improve your chances of living to 100.


1. Live in a city

A tree change sounds healthy, but you have more chance of becoming a centenarian in the city. National Health Performance Authority data shows life expectancy at birth ranges from 83.6 years (metro) to 81.5 (regional) and 78.2 (rural). Higher levels of smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and an increased chance of having a disability contribute to the lower life expectancy in rural and remote areas. Experts also blame poor access to healthcare, health promotion campaigns and to the internet and mobile phones that help people connect.

2. Move to Canberra

The national capital has a lot to offer: natural beauty, Australia’s top ranked university, friendly neighbours, four seasons in a year (not one day), and most importantly, long life. The latest ABS statistics show the Australian Capital Territory had the highest life expectancy, for males (81.7) and females (85) out of all states and territories. ANU experts attribute this to social-economic factors of more white collar jobs and better education, and environmental factors such as clean air and bike paths that encourage exercise. A middle-sized city also avoids the stresses of a big city and the higher incidence of injury in rural areas.

3. Go to university

Is it a coincidence that we are better educated and living longer? In 1976 only 5 per cent of Australians had a bachelor degree or higher qualification and the life expectancy at birth was 69.4 years for males and 76.4 years for females. Now 26 per cent of Australians have a bachelor degree or higher qualification and life expectancy at birth for both sexes is in the 80s. US statistics support the link, with a recent study showing the life expectancy for a white woman without a college degree was 73.5 years compared with 83.9 years for women with a college degree.

4. Get married

Health and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on death rates shows married people or those in committed relationships have lower death rates than single people in almost all age groups. Experts say couples are better off in economic terms and more likely to make sure their partner maintains a good diet, exercises and sees a doctor regularly. There is also the cold fact that those at greater risk of dying are less likely to tie the knot.

People who volunteer live longer. Picture: iStock

People who volunteer live longer. Picture: iStock

5. Lend a handThe mental health benefits of volunteering are obvious. But there’s increasing evidence the benefits are also physical. A 2013 study published in the US journal Psychology and Aging reported that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan. But you have to really mean it. A 2012 study in the journal Health Psychology found a person’s intentions had to be altruistic for there to be any effect on staving off mortality.

6. Grow indoor plants

NASA studies show that pot plants have the potential to improve indoor air quality and help you live longer. Of course, NASA was trying to figure out how to remove volatile organic compounds in a tightly sealed space capsule, but the idea is still down to earth. Research at University of Technology, Sydney, found indoor plants could remove pollutants, cleanse stale air and reduce symptoms such as headaches, sore eyes and loss of concentration. Mother-in-law’s tongue and bamboo palm are among those recommended.

7. Lose your religion

The less you worry about eternal life the more likely you are to live to a ripe old age. At least that’s the suggestion of a UK study that found young people felt no need to visit churches, mosques or temples because they assumed they would live for a long time and felt no desperation to hear about an afterlife. The University of East Anglia found that people’s religious attendance and likelihood of describing themselves as “religious” went down as life expectancy went up. Based on the World Value Survey Dataset and the World Bank data, they calculated that 10 extra years of life expectancy correlated to an 8.4 per cent drop in people’s likelihood to call themselves religious.

8. LOL: Laugh out loud

Laughter really is one of the best medicines. The US Longevity Genes Project found that centenarians are often extroverts who embrace the world from an optimistic and carefree perspective. It can be as simple as hanging out with friends, participating in group exercise classes and watching comedy shows.

9. Explore new territory

Take an archaeological tour around Turkey, follow the Great Ocean Walk or visit a new suburb. German and US research, published in Science in 2013, suggests expanding your horizons could help expand your brain and expanding your brain might help prevent life-shortening dementia. The scientists studied the responses of 40 genetically identical mice in an enclosure offering a large variety of activity and exploration options.

10. Ditch the wealth dream

Thirty years ago the rich lived longer than the rest of the population. But Business Review Weeklyanalysed its BRW Rich 200 annual data two years ago and discovered the average Australian is now outliving the average Rich Lister. This can be attributed to improved healthcare, a higher standard of living and the fact the average person retires earlier than the average billionaire.

11. Clear the credit card debt

The Reserve Bank of Australia data shows Australians owe $51 billion on credit cards, with $33 billion of that accruing interest. The biggest culprits are those aged 35 to 54. Demographers refer to this age group as the “stressed out” generation, so it makes sense if you want to make it to 80, 90 or even 100, you need to clear that credit card debt and learn to relax.

12. Buy a sports car

A Canadian study has suggested there’s a good reason for middle-aged men to buy sports cars: they live longer. The 2009 Concordia University study found a new Porsche will boost a man’s testosterone levels, while a beat-up Toyota has no effect. Lower testosterone has been linked with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and depression. The researchers report that men over 50 with low hormone readings are 33 per cent more likely to die prematurely than those with higher levels.

13. Aim for financial stability

The Australian Psychological Society reports that finances remain the leading cause of stress among Australians. When pressures extend beyond credit card debt, the impact can include anxiety, muscular tension, insomnia, embarrassment, anger, withdrawal, distress, grief and depression. Financial stress can also lead to poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, eating too much junk food and excessive alcohol intake. This all adds up to a shorter life.

14. Hang out with younger people

US scientists believe the vigour of young people rubs off on the elderly, resulting in improved cognitive abilities and cardiovascular health and a longer life. Surprisingly, this assertion is based on fruit fly research. Biologist Chun-Fang Wu of the University of Iowa found that the presence of youthful, active fruit flies doubled the life span of a group of flies with a mutation that has been linked in humans to Alzheimer’s disease.

15. Have lots of friends

A healthy social life may be as good for your long-term health as avoiding cigarettes, according to US research in 2010. Published in PROS Medicine, the researchers reviewed 148 studies from all over the world and found those with poor social connections had on average 50 per cent higher chance of death than people with more robust social ties. Recent lab studies have shown that blood pressure and heart rate will increase less when people are accompanied by a person who is close to them. There’s a 20 per cent increase in breast cancer survival rates for women who are socially connected.

16. Belt out a tune

Evidence is mounting that karaoke, choirs and singing along to Australia’s Got Talent will all help you live longer. Sweden’s University of Gothenburg researchers believe singing in a choir has the same health benefits as yoga. They found that the heartbeats of choir members begin to synchronise, resulting in a calming effect on the mind and body. Australia’s University of Newcastle has found that singing can reduce depression and anxiety in the elderly.

17. Check your car’s crash rating

Safe driving and safe cars help you achieve long life. Road trauma results in more than 1000 deaths in Australia each year and about 32,000 people suffer serious injuries. Wearing a seat belt, adhering to the speed limit and observing the drink driving limit are essential. When buying a car look for two airbags and anti-lock brakes. Electronic stability control prevents single-vehicle accidents if the car skids. The Australasian New Car Assessment Program warns that occupants have twice the chance of being killed or seriously injured in a crash in an older vehicle with three safety stars or less.

18. Work hard

It’s assumed that being a workaholic is a recipe for an early grave, but research shows that hardworking, responsible, persistent humans live the longest. The book The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study indicates that dependable, prudent children on average avoided risks and eventually entered into stable relationships — a major boost for health, happiness and longevity. The conscientious, hardworking personality trait extends life by an average of two to three years.

19. Explore new territory

Take an archaeological tour around Turkey, follow the Great Ocean Walk or visit a new suburb. German and US research, published in Science in 2013, suggests expanding your horizons could help expand your brain and expanding your brain might help prevent life-shortening dementia. The scientists studied the responses of 40 genetically identical mice in an enclosure offering a large variety of activity and exploration options. “Animals that explored the environment to a greater degree also grew more new neurons than animals that were more passive,” the scientists reported. “Our results suggest that experience influences the ageing of the human mind.”

People who live at high altitudes jave a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular diseas

People who live at high altitudes jave a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.

20. Climb to a high altitudeResearchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Harvard School of Global Health have found that people living at higher altitudes have a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease. The body is also better at synthesising vitamin D at altitude because of increased solar radiation. The researchers say this may have beneficial effects on the heart and some kinds of cancer.

21. Use public transport

Using public transport may be your ticket to avoiding high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, high cholesterol and kidney disease. A Melbourne study has found that incidental physical activity from walking to catch the train or tram to work or cycling to the shops can save lives. The results showed car drivers averaged eight to 10 minutes of incidental exercise daily, public transport users 35 minutes daily, and walkers/cyclists 38 minutes daily.

22. Believe in yourself

A US study of 1400 senior citizens found that those who believe they are living for a reason have a 30 per cent lower rate of cognitive decline. This belief may protect your brain from the eventual effects of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center say. Another US study published in the Health Psychology found people who feel in control and believe they can achieve goals despite hardships are more likely to live longer and healthier lives, especially among those with less education.

23. Achieve balance

Falls are the No. 1 cause of injury-related death for people aged over 65. Simple exercises can increase strength, balance and core stability. Squats, lunges, and step ups are recommended, along with balance-building activities such as tai chi and yoga. Practical changes around the house, such as bars to grab near and in the shower also help.

24. Hug a tree

If this sounds too new-age, then be prepared for Greenies to outlive you. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. A study published inThe Lancet in 2008 found living near parks, green spaces and woodlands boosted health.

25. Support ocean research

Moving closer to the sea can reduce stress and encourage physical activity. But the real benefit of the ocean, no matter where you live, is the organisms that have the potential to provide new sources of drugs and help us understand human diseases. But ocean research is in its infancy and needs your support. Scientists also need to study the threats the ocean poses to human health, and find ways to predict and prevent disease outbreaks.


26.Get enough sleep — but not too much

Seven to eight hours a night is the ideal sleep for a long life. A study in the journal Sleep linked less than 6-7 hours a night to a 12 per cent increased risk of death compared with people sleeping 7-8 hours. But people who sleep more than 8-9 hours a night have a 30 per cent higher risk of death.

27.Take up yoga

A study in the International Journal of Yoga found yoga enhances muscular strength and body flexibility, promotes and improves respiratory and cardiovascular function, improves sleep, and reduces chronic pain and depression.

28.Switch off the TV

Every hour of TV watched after the age of 25 reduces your life by 22 minutes, according to a University of Queensland study. It found an Australian who watches six hours of TV a day on average for life will live 4.8 years less than a person who does not watch TV.


Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and ovarian cancer, a review of evidence in Breastfeeding Medicine journal found. And the longer women breastfeed, the less likely they are to get breast cancer — the sixth leading cause of death in Australian women.

30. Walk every day

Lack of exercise could be twice as likely as obesity to lead you to an early grave, a 12-year study of more than 300,000 people released recently suggests. And the University of Cambridge researchers say 20 minutes of brisk walking a day is enough to substantially reduce the risk of death.

31. Don’t sit when you can stand

Sitting less than three hours a day will extend your lifespan by three years, a study in online journalBMJ Open found. Tips from experts to reduce sitting time include getting a standing workstation, holding walking meetings and keeping your bin well away from your desk.

32.Butt out

Smokers will die an average of 10 years earlier than nonsmokers, according to a huge Australian study published in BMC Medicine this year. It shows smoking kills up to two-thirds of smokers.

33.Exercise for 2.5 hours a week

Scientists have discovered 7.5 hours a week is the optimum amount of moderate exercise to live a long life. A study in journal JAMA Internal Medicine found people who do 7.5 hours of exercise a week are 39 per cent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercise. But even 2.5 hours a week of moderate exercise will cut your risk of death by a substantial 31 per cent.

34. Floss daily

One secret to a longer life will cost you less than $2 a week — simply brush and floss daily. One study of older people in the Journal of Aging Research found never flossing increased risk of early death by 30 per cent compared with flossing every day.

Swimmers live longer, a study has shown.

Swimmers live longer, a study has shown.

35. Swim for your lifeA controversial study suggests men who swim have far less risk of dying early than inactive men — but also far less than runners or walkers. While the findings, in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, have been disputed, it does appear swimming is at least as good as walking or running for extending life.

36. Lose excess weight

Being obese can shave up to eight years off your life from diabetes or cardiovascular disease, a study in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology shows.

37. Take the stairs

Taking the stairs instead of the lift may save your life, University of Geneva researchers found. Participants in the small study increased their average number of flights of stairs from five to 23 a day, which improved lung capacity, blood pressure and fitness enough to cut their risk of premature death by 15 per cent.

38. Slip, slop, slap

More than 2000 Australians die each year from skin cancer and the main cause is too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Australia experiences some of the highest levels of UV radiation in the world because we are close to the equator and have many clear, blue-sky days, according to Cancer Council Australia. The simple solution? Cover up in the sun.

39. Hit the dance floor

Research from Queen’s University Belfast shows older people in particular can dance their way towards improved health and happiness because of the social, mental and physical benefits of dancing.

40. Check your skin

Regular self-examination of your skin potentially reduces the risk of advanced melanoma by 63 per cent through early detection of thinner lesions, according to Cancer Council Australia. And more than 95 per cent of skin cancers can usually be successfully treated if found early. Get to know your skin and see a doctor if you see a change.

41. Go for gold

Winning an Olympic medal is the golden ticket to a longer life, according to a study in journal The BMJ. Medallists lived an average of 2.8 years longer than people in the general population. Possible reasons include genetic factors, physical activity, healthy lifestyle — and the wealth and status that come with sporting glory.

42. Cycle faster

A study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found men with fast intensity cycling survive 5.3 years longer than slow cyclists while men with average intensity live 2.9 years longer. Women who cycle intensely live 3.9 years longer than slow cyclists while average cyclists survive 2.2 years longer.

43. Jog a little

Jogging regularly can extend your life by 6.2 years if you’re a man and 5.6 years if you’re a woman. But you don’t need to hit the pavement hard. The Copenhagen City Heart Study showed only 1-2.5 hours of jogging a week at slow or average pace was the optimum amount to boost longevity.

44. Take nana naps

It turns out Nana knows best — a regular short nap around noon dramatically cuts the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, especially for working men. The EPIC cohort study of nearly 24,000 people over six years found occasionally nappers had a 12 per cent lower coronary mortality. Those napping at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes had a 37 per cent lower coronary mortality.

45. Get a mammogram

Women aged 50-69 years who have a mammogram reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer by 40 per cent compared with women who are not screened, a major study in the New England Journal of Medicine found. Women aged 50 to 74 should have a mammogram with Breast Screen Victoria every two years.

46. Pump iron

The more muscle mass you have as you age, the less likely you are to die prematurely. University of California, Los Angeles research shows the ratio of fat to muscle in the body is a better predictor of early death than body mass index (BMI). That means shedding fat and gaining muscle is better than watching the scales.

47. Get lucky … often

More sex — especially if it’s satisfying sex — is linked to longevity for men and women. One study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, shows men who have sex two or three times a week almost halve their risk of heart disease. Sex reduces stress, improves sleep, boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, relieves pain and tones the body.

48. Take a screening test

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer after lung cancer, claiming 3980 lives every year. According to Bowel Cancer Australia, 90 per cent of cases can be treated successfully if found early. A simple at-home screening test every year from age 50 could save your life.

49. Take up tai chi

The gentle movements of tai chi reduce stress and promote serenity but research in the journal Cell Transplantation last year suggests tai chi may also slow ageing by boosting a certain type of stem cell.

50. Avoid boxing & rough sports

Keeping active will prolong life — but high-contact sports are the exception. A study in The BMJfound sports such as Rugby union, ice hockey and boxing increase mortality by up to 11 per cent. Repeated collisions and injuries may have long-lasting, detrimental effects.


51.Follow your heart

Most Aussies are unaware of the connection between heart health and brain health, with experts claiming the risk of developing dementia increases as a result of conditions that affect the heart or blood vessels. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and obesity — so the moral of the story is healthy heart, healthy brain.

“Research indicates that having diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, and not treating them effectively, can damage the blood vessels in the brain, affecting brain function and thinking skills,” said Alzheimer Australia’s CEO, Carol Bennett. Oh, and put out that ciggie. That’s bad for just about everything.

52. Get moving for a stronger body and better brain

There is strong evidence that regular physical activity is associated with better brain function and reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, stimulates the growth of brain cells and the connections between them, and is associated with larger brain volume.

For adults aged 18-64, you should be getting active every day of the week. Yep, that’s seven days, racking up between two and five hours of sweaty goodness. You’ll feel great, you’ll look better and most importantly, you’ll have more energy to use that mind — and body — of yours.

53. Learn a new language

Always wanted to go to France, or had your heart set on ordering a vino in an Italian piazza next summer? Scientists have found that challenging the brain with new activities, like learning a new language, helps build new brain cells and strengthen connections between them.

This helps to give the brain more ‘reserve’ so that it can cope better and keep working properly if any brain cells are damaged or die — maybe from too many of those vinos.

And the best news? It’s never too late. Alzheimer Australia’s Carol Bennett said as we grow older we tend to prefer doing the things we’ve always done.

“Tasks that we are familiar with — and that’s understandable — but the brain benefits by having to tackle something it doesn’t know,” she said.

If you want to stay healthy eat plenty of veggies like mum of two Kirsty Tung. Picture: J

If you want to stay healthy eat plenty of veggies like mum of two Kirsty Tung. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

54. Eat it up

Your brain needs a range of nutrients to function properly. Evidence suggests that a healthy, balanced diet helps maintain brain health and functionality and several studies have found that a high intake of saturated fats, such as those found in deep fried and takeaway foods — and those pesky pies and pastries — are associated with an increased risk of dementia.

So, if what you eat affects your brain, why wouldn’t you want only the best? Gobble up those ‘good fats’ found in fish and olive oil, and foods rich in antioxidants such as tomatoes, kidney beans, pecan nuts, cranberries, blueberries and oranges — all delicious, and great for brain health.

55. Don’t drink too much

A glass of red with dinner or a beer after work with friends can seem like a lifesaver — but over time, drinking large quantities of alcohol may increase the risk of developing dementia, and lower brain function.

In fact, there is a type of dementia that may develop in anyone who regularly drinks excessive amounts of alcohol over a number of years. The benefits of moderate consumption — besides the hangovers — include reducing inflammation, increasing good cholesterol and increasing brain blood flow, all of which have positive effects on brain health.

56. Become a social butterfly

It can be easy to hibernate in the comfort of your own home in winter, but you’re actually doing yourself more harm than good.

To help look after your brain health it’s important to be social with people whose company you enjoy — and that’s doctor’s orders, so suck it up.

“Social engagement has been found to have benefits for other health factors related to cognitive functioning, such as vascular condition and depression,” Ms Bennett said.

“Research suggests that social activities that involve mental activity and physical activity such as dancing and team sports for example, provide even greater benefit for brain health.” So go to the movies, check out a concert, take a trip or book a new restaurant. Your brain — and your friends — will thank you.

57. Did someone say Sudoku?

Studies have suggested that playing brain games like Sudoku might help people reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline or dementia as we get older. According to a spokesman, one of the challenges of being an adult is that we spend more and more time thinking about the same types of problems.

“When people retire from their careers, they face the risk of becoming mentally stagnant — without an office to go to each day, without new problems to solve at work, people in retirement might feel under-utilised or unchallenged,” he said.

“It’s a popular game for seniors because it helps people reconnect with different parts of their brain.”

58. Crosswords — as long as they puzzle

BrainHQ founder and author Michael Merzenich said doing a daily crossword puzzle is great for your brain — as long as they’re hard enough. He said they need to be challenging enough to push your brain to the next level. “One idea is to give yourself a time limit and see how fast you can do it,” Dr Merzenich said.

“Or, try a puzzle that’s harder than your normal puzzle skill level.” He said doing a daily crossword was a good way to see if your memory was holding up — and if the crossword you do each day starts to seem more and more difficult, it could be time to get your memory checked.

A good night’s sleep helps reset your brain.

A good night’s sleep helps reset your brain.

59. Sweet dreams. Yes please!Sleep is not only essential for overall function — just ask any new parent — but it’s also imperative for reaching creative mental insights and being able to see new solutions to old problems.

Along with a thousand other benefits, sleep helps ‘reset’ your brain to look at problems from a different perspective, which is crucial to creativity.

Harvard research showed that people are 33 per cent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas after sleeping. It’s also known to enhance memories — so what are you waiting for? Zzzzzzzzzz …. good night.

60. Catch some rays

Apparently activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain, and researchers have found that it’s vital that the mother get enough vitamin D while pregnant in order for the baby’s brain to develop properly.

In adults, research has shown that low vitamin D levels are associated with poorer brain function, and increasing levels may help keep older adults mentally fit. Of course, do it safely. Wear a hat and sunscreen and limit your time in the sun — it may be good for the brain but we all know it’s not good for your skin.

61. Volunteer — it’s good for the soul, and the brain

Professor Henry Brodaty from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing said people who are more socially engaged have less Alzheimer’s disease when followed up several years later, and socially active people are less depressed and more active in general.

“Volunteering is an excellent way to stay connected and not only is it good for the brain but good for the body as you stay active being out and about,” he said.

“People who have had depression also have higher risk of Alzheimer’s, and it is never too late — or early — to start making these changes to improve brain health.”

62. Watch your head

Put it this way — your brain is soft and your skull is hard — you have to do your best to protect both. Prof Brodaty said Alzheimer’s has been controversially linked to head injuries.

“In any event you should always take care to protect your head and it makes sense to wear a helmet if riding a bike,” he said.

According to Harvard University, moderate to severe head injuries early in life increase the risk of cognitive impairment in old age — and concussions increase risk by a factor of 10.

Brain injuries can ruin your life, so wear your seat belt, drive safely, avoid hitting soccer balls with your melon and men over 40 — stay off the roof.

63. Learn from B1 and B2

An Oxford University study found taking high doses of vitamin B12, B6 and B9, or folic acid, was associated with less brain shrinkage and better cognitive function in older people with memory problems. Vitamin B12 is credited for keeping your mind sharp as you age, and according to the latest research, people with high vitamin B12 deficiency were more likely to score lower on cognitive tests, as well as have a smaller total brain volume, which suggests a lack of the vitamin may contribute to brain shrinkage.

Mental fogginess and problems with memory are two of the top warning signs that you have vitamin B12 deficiency.

To boost your natural supply, stock up on seafood, beef, chicken, pork, milk, and eggs.

64. Turn it up

The “Mozart effect” shows how long we’ve believed that listening to music may boost your brainpower. And yes, research suggests listening to classical music can make you smarter.

In fact, it’s also shown that listening to music while exercising boosted cognitive levels and verbal fluency skills in people diagnosed with heart disease, so gym junkies are in luck.

At the end of the day, listening to music has also been associated with enhanced cognitive functioning and improved mental focus among healthy adults — so take advantage of this simple pleasure and turn up the volume.

Your brain will thank you, even if the neighbours may not.

65. Start brain training

In the words of Prof Brodaty, never stop learning. You need to constantly challenge your brain to keep it agile and stretched.

Develop new skills — anything from knitting to cooking or learning a musical instrument. “Commercial computer cognitive training programs such as Lumosity and Posit Science have research support and are increasingly popular — these programs are structured to improve a range of abilities including verbal and visual memory and speed of information processing.”

So whatever your preferred form of training, do it daily, and do it with purpose.

66. Knit your brain happy

Knitting is an emerging trend for modern women needing a way to wind-down, de-stress and have a positive influence on their lives — and subsequentially, their brains.

Sydney University’s Jenny Whiting was a founding member of last year’s first Neural Knitworks exhibition featuring a giant textile brain installation, reflecting on the mind health benefits of yarn craft.

Using thousands of handmade textile neurons crafted by people from ‘knit-ins’ all over Australia, Dr Whiting said knitting was ‘calming, soothing and meditative’.

“It leads to better concentration and helps clarify thinking — indeed, Albert Einstein is said to have knitted to ‘calm his mind and clear his thinking’,” she said.

“I think that the best practical way to think about having a healthy brain is if we generally feel happy and function effectively.

“Many factors can impact on our brain health, from hormones and everyday stresses and events to illness, accident and of course, ageing. “How we handle these assaults can be a measure of our brain health.”

67. Knock, knock — who’s there?

Laugh yourself smart is the message here, with laughter the best medicine for the brain and memory, as well as the body. Unlike emotional responses, which are limited to specific areas of the brain, laughter engages multiple regions across the whole brain.

And not only that — listening to jokes and trying to work out the punch line is great for learning and creativity.

If you can’t always laugh at yourself or something around you, experts say it can’t hurt to give yourself a helping hand — so keep a toy on your desk, or put up a funny poster in your office. Your brain, and your co-workers, will thank you.

68. Meditate your stress away

Stress is one of the brain’s worst enemies, and if not dealt with, can destroy brain cells and damage the part of the brain involved in memory function.

Studies show that meditation helps improve many different types of conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as improving concentration, memory and reasoning skills.

US-based meditation master Thom Knoles said practising meditation helped us see things clearly and put things into perspective. “Research indicates the effects of meditation are not just that the brain is growing more grey matter, but that the brain is learning how to repair itself organically,” he says.

69. Repeat, repeat, repeat

Are you ever told something, only to forget it minutes later? You’re not alone.

Using memory-enhancing techniques can help improve your ability to learn new information and retain it over time, with repetition being the golden rule.

The brain also responds to novelty so repeating something in a different way or at a different time will make the most of the novelty effect and allow you to build stronger memories.

You can take notes, or repeat a name after you hear it for the first time, and even paraphrase what someone tells you. It all helps, and it’s all soaking into that brain of yours, making it — and you — more effective.

70. And exhale

Deep breathing increases oxygen levels and blood-flow to the brain.

If you can make it part of your day, allocating 10-15 minutes of daily deep breathing can make a huge difference in your quality of life and brain’s functioning potential.

And what a relaxing way to process the day’s happenings. It is a little luxury that can help improve your brain function, allowing you to connect your mind with your body.

And who wouldn’t be happier with 15 minutes peace, all to themselves?

71. Here, fishy fishy …

Fish oil supplements are like membrane material for the brain. The two primary components act to strengthen both the emotional centre of the brain and boost focus, with studies showing an increase in overall brain activity after taking fish oil regularly.

According to Bio Organics, about one third of the brain is made up of omega-3 fatty acids, mostly DHA. “This highlights the importance of consuming essential fatty acids to help maintain healthy brain function,” a spokesman said.

72. Easy as ABC

Writing can be a way of a life, or a chore — but either way, it has been linked to improved memory and expression of thoughts. When you write, you are strengthening your brain’s natural ability to convey thoughts and feelings.

Expressing yourself on a page is a great way to exercise your ability to build a thought process and engage in critical thinking. Journals, diaries, blog entries, and writing stories are wonderful ways to fulfil your brain — and who knows, that one little chore may just change your life.

73. Challenge yourself

“It could be taking up a new sport, doing a course in something you’re always wanted to do — anything really, as long as it’s learning something new,” Ms Bennett continued. “Challenge yourself often and keep learning new things throughout life.”

She said higher levels of mental activity throughout life were consistently associated with better brain function and reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

Importantly for older or retired people, increased complex mental activity in later life is associated with a lower dementia risk, which is good news for those who are able to work beyond retirement age.

74. Get appy

If you ever feel like you need a ‘brain camp’, look no further than your mobile phone. There are some great apps specifically designed to keep you on your toes and thinking clearly, which can often be a push in our too-busy-too-fast 24/7 world.

Try brain training app Lumosity, which boats personalised games and tools developed by neuroscientists. You can train every day and improve memory, promote problem solving skills and processing speed, according to experts.

CogniFit Brain Fitness, Brain Trainer Special, BrainHQ and Brain Fitness Pro are other examples of how to lift your IQ and train your brain to greatness.

75. Have a good cry

Don’t be afraid to cry — and that means you too, men.

Crying is an expression of what you’re feeling — letting it out actually heals emotions and promotes healthy circulation within the brain.

Crying can even be seen as cleansing the inside of their brain, which is another healthy way to increase brainpower. And you’ll feel better afterwards too — just don’t forget the tissues.


76. Avoid too much meat

For many of us, nothing tastes better than a well-cooked steak, but Associate Professor Tim Crowe from Deakin University’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences says the common ingredient among communities with long life spans is a distinct lack of meat. “These long-lived people are not necessarily vegetarian, but they do eat mostly plant-based foods.”

77. Eat legumes

Many of the longest-living populations in the world love legumes. The people of Okinawa, in Japan, who have the highest percentage of centenarians on Earth, eat a diet rich in soybean-based products such as tofu. Furthermore, a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who eat beans have a 22 per cent lower risk of obesity.

78. Skip breakfast occasionally

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s Professor Mark Febbraio says the need to eat breakfast is a wives’ tale. “There is actually more evidence that overnight fasting lasting to noon is beneficial because it prevents the conversion of dietary carbohydrates into fat and protects against fatty liver disease and obesity.”

79. Say yes to nuts

Respected nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton is a big fan of a daily handful of nuts. She points to a recent review in American Society for Nutrition which examined seven studies looking at deaths from various causes. “Those who consumed nuts each day had a 27 per cent reduced risk of death from any cause, 39 per cent lower risk of heart disease death and 14 per cent lower risk of cancer deaths,” Stanton says.

The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption are overstated.

The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption are overstated.

80. Say no to (too much) alcohol

We have long been told a glass of red wine may be good for our hearts. But then the killjoys at University College London had to go and ruin it by claiming the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption are overstated. Their recent study, published in the British Medical Journal, found “little to no” health benefits of drinking alcohol.

81. Fast safely

If you’re on the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, you could be on to something. In a recent study in the journal Cell Metabolism, participants who intermittently fasted for three months had reduced risk factors for ageing, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Co-author Valter D. Longo described the idea behind fasting as a way to “reboot” by clearing out damaged cells and regenerating new ones.

82. Detox from the detox diets

Those six-day detox plans that promise thinness are just a quick fix-solution. The Dietitians Association of Australia warns that many trend-based diets lack adequate nutrients and may even put you at greater risk of high blood fats and cardiovascular disease.

83. Do not pass the salt

While you’re plating up your freshly steamed fish resist the urge to season it with salt. “A high intake of salt can increase your blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease including heart, stroke and blood vessel disease,” a Heart Foundation spokesman says.

84. Ditch the supplements

According to nutritionist and exercise physiologist Paul Taylor health supplements are a waste of money. “There is a marked difference between natural foods and supplements,” he says. “The average multivitamin and mineral supplement contains between 15 and 30 nutrients, yet natural foods contain between 10,000 and 15,000.”

85. Eat something fishy

The Heart Foundation recommends eating two to three serves of fish, including oily fish, each week to reduce your risk of heart disease. Fish is packed with Omega-3s — a type of polyunsaturated fat essential for a healthy heart.

86. Head to the Mediterranean

A diet big on olives, olive oil, fish, nuts, herbs and spices, dairy and beans is renowned for fighting disease. “There are remarkable health outcomes associated with the Mediterranean style of eating,” Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian Rajshri Roy says. These include improved brain function, better eye health, lower risk of certain cancers, decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes and protection against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

87. Stock up on fibre

There’s a reason we hear a lot about the importance of fibre in the diet, according to Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian Jessica Bailes. “The risk of many of the diseases that prevent us from reaching old age — heart disease, diabetes, bowel cancer — can be reduced by eating lots of fibre,” she says. Load up on bran and oats, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

88. Drop the junk

If you truly want to give yourself the best chance of a long life then you need to give up junk food. According to the most recent Australian Health survey: Nutrition First Results — Foods and Nutrients from 2011-12, the average Australian gets more than a third of their daily energy intake from junk foods.

89. Only eat when you’re hungry

This is harder than it sounds. Dietitian and director of Figureate Consulting and co-founder of the moderation eating movement, Zoe Nicholson, advocates “intuitive eating”. “When we eat intuitively, our bodies crave a variety of nourishing food, we are much less likely to overeat or comfort eat and it becomes easier to maintain a stable healthier weight,” she says.

90. Enjoy a coffee

Coffee has been found to help stave off a range of later-life illnesses, including Parkinson’s. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease. Previous studies have also found caffeine can help with depression.

91. chocolate now and then

A new study by the universities of Aberdeen, Manchester, Cambridge and East Anglia, in the UK, links eating up to 100g of milk chocolate a day to lowered heart disease and stroke risk. A large Australian study, published in the British Medical Journal in 2012, found eating dark chocolate daily could prevent major cardiovascular events in people with risk factors for heart disease.

92. Mimic the Japanese diet

As previously mentioned, so healthy and robust are the Okinawans of Japan that the ongoing Okinawa Centenarian Study has been set up to examine their alarmingly low mortality rates. It couldn’t hurt to copy their diet which includes three servings of fish a week, including squid and octopus; plenty of whole grains; vegetables and soy products; and truckloads of tofu and kombu seaweed.

Snacking on blueberries is a great way to live longer

Snacking on blueberries is a great way to live longer

93. Snack on blueberries

As well as high levels of micronutrients and fibre, blueberries are full of antioxidants, thought to lower inflammation, guard your cells against damage from free radicals, and reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

94. Have a green cuppa

The Japanese have long espoused green tea, and the rest of the world is catching on. The Cancer Council’s official position is that “green tea may provide greater protection against some cancers, however more human studies are needed before any conclusion can be reached”. Any tea is a rich source of antioxidants.

95. Replace the junk food with fruit and veg

Once you start passing on the sausage rolls and hot chips you will have a lot more room for fruit and veg, which are essential for a long life. Nutrition Australia CEO Lucinda Hancock says studies show fewer than 10 per cent of people eat enough vegetables and only half of us enough fruit. “Make the switch to fruit and veg and drop the junk to improve your health and feel great,” Hancock urges.

96. Don’t take sugar

Sugar seems to be in everything: sauces, muesli, cereal, juices. Which is why the Heart Foundation — concerned by spiking levels of obesity and type-two diabetes — are calling for a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. New guidelines published by the World Health Organisation also recommend Australians reduce their daily intake of sugar to 10 per cent of their total energy intake in order to help fight tooth decay and obesity levels.

97. Don’t forget the spinach

All vegies are great dietary choices, but spinach delivers such a hit of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that it deserves a special mention. A cup of spinach contains as much bone-building calcium as a cup of milk.

98. Eat until 80 per cent full

We all push ourselves to finish our meal, despite being full. According to Accredited Practising Dietitian Shivaun Conn, we should stop shy of this danger zone as the more we eat, the more calories we consume. “Slow down when eating, check in with how full you are feeling as you eat, appreciate the food in front of you and how it will positively affect your body and mind,” she says.

99. White to whole-wheat

That white bread sandwich is not doing you any favours. Breads made from 100 per cent wholegrains, including wheat, rye and barley offer a wide spectrum of nutrients and high levels of fibre.

100. Embrace H20

Ah, water. What’s not to love? It is readily available, great for us, and most importantly when we drink water we are steering clear of sugary drinks that are laden with calories. “Hydrating well throughout each day can help you feel better, look better and function better,” says Accredited Practising Dietitian from the Good Nutrition Co, Nicole Dynan.