By Dr. Jeffrey Gladden

A few decades ago, living to 120 was an impossible dream. But today, this dream has become a reality. Experts believe that many children born today will live well past 100. Some older adults also have a great chance of becoming centenarians. Are you hoping to be among them? If so, you need to overcome a vital roadblock: your mindset.

When patients arrive in my office, some are resigned to a gradual loss of independence. As they age, patients expect to develop painful health problems. For many people, these unfortunate health outcomes inevitable.

The truth is, adjusting your mindset can alter your physical health. With the right approach, my patients can extend their lifespan and preserve their independence. Read on to learn more.

Understanding mortality

Five diseases are responsible for more than 50% of deaths in the United States. These diseases include:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s

If you reduce your risk of these illnesses, you can dramatically extend your lifespan. These diseases share several risk factors, including an unhealthy lifestyle.

When patients ask about how to boost their longevity, I begin with three simple recommendations: Increase your physical activity, watch your diet, and adjust your mindset.

Develop a longevity mindset

As I often tell patients, extending your lifespan takes conscious effort. The aging process is like swimming in a river that leads to a waterfall. When you’re young, you’re far upstream. It doesn’t take much effort to tread water. But as you age, the current grows stronger. Every year, it’s harder to swim against the current.

Some patients give up and let the current carry them over the falls. Others decide to fight back. They work hard to remain “strong swimmers.” These individuals know that staying healthy takes effort. When they wake up each day, they’re fully committed to their health and longevity.

Stay physically active

It’s no secret that physical activity is the key to longevity. But with hundreds of physical fitness trends, it’s hard to know which exercises are best.

I recommend activities that lower your risk of injury. Balance training exercises are also essential. These exercises help you avoid catastrophic falls. Falls can prove deadly for older adults. Boosting your longevity and preventing a fall go hand-in-hand.

Frequent walking also often significant health benefits. When combined with strength training and leg exercises, walking preserves your muscle mass. Maintaining muscle mass keeps your body young.

Improve your diet

Research has shown that a plant-based diet can improve your longevity. Opt for an eating plan that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid red meat and choose fish or legumes instead.

A growing body suggests that calorie restriction may improve both health and lifespan. Some research suggests that cutting calories could boost longevity. Talk to your medical provider to determine this type of diet is right for you.

What else can I do to live beyond 120?

Maintain your social circle

We know that religious people tend to live longer. These individuals usually have strong social connections and emotional support. Social ties like these can help boost your lifespan.

If you’re not religious, look for other sources of social activity. Volunteer work is a great way to make friends and stay connected. Virtual tools also help many people keep in touch with family and friends.

Keep mentally active

Mental activity keeps your body and brain young. Unfortunately, many retirees become “mentally lazy” once they leave their jobs. If that sounds familiar, consider signing up for a college class or picking up a new hobby.

Manage mental illness

Stress, anxiety, and depression can rapidly age your body. They also increase your risk of severe health problems, including dementia. If you’re struggling with mental illness, talk to your medical provider. Treatment can help bring your symptoms under control.

Consider supplements

Supplements like molecular hydrogen may help in the fight against aging. This supplement blocks the effects of the COX2 enzyme. It combats oxidative stress, neutralizes free radicals, and fights inflammation. Many of my patients report that molecular hydrogen improved their physical and cognitive performance.

As the saying goes: Aging is inevitable but getting old is optional. Optimizing your lifestyle keeps your body and your mind young and healthy.