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Want to Live to 90? Hint: Size Counts. Gender Does Too

A study on seniors who’ve lived to see 90 offers some new insight on what it takes to live a long life depending on your gender. Interestingly, women who lived that long tended to be taller and had put on less weight than their shorter, heavier counterparts, CNN Health reported.

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Men, on the other hand, lived longer when they were more physically active. The study was observational only, meaning researchers weren’t looking for a cause-and-effect end point, but they did conclude that, at least in this particular study, “men’s and women’s health might respond differently to BMI, height and exercise.”

This study, which lasted more than 30 years, also confirmed that obesity and a sedentary lifestyle can shorten your life, whether you’re male or female.

No matter which way you look at it, when it comes to living a long life, there are some commonalities that most people share if they’ve made it to their 90s and beyond, and those common denominators revolve around staying active, eating right and —surprise! — having a positive attitude. In fact, people who have lived a century or longer said their longevity secrets typically center around social and emotional factors.

From expressing love to nurturing strong family and social ties to being involved in their community, centenarians reported they these things helped them feel younger. They also said that learning to avoid and manage stress was another secret.

That said, an individual celebrating their 100th birthday today was raised on a very different diet than a child born now, or even a few decades ago. In 1965, Americans ate about 40 percent of their calories as carbohydrates, and another 40 percent of their calories came from fat.

But today’s dietary guidelines, issued for the first time in the U.S. in 1980, have turned that eating chart upside down, and people are now eating more carbs than they need, and extremely low-fat diets, based on those guidelines. As a result, Americans are overweight, obese and suffering from Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

And instead of inching toward 90, Americans’ lifespans are getting shorter: For the first time in two decades, life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.3 in 2015 for men, and from 81.3 to 81.2 for women.

The cost of health care in the U.S. is also the highest in the world, and continues to rise. And while you can’t control how tall you are or what gender you are, one thing you can control to stop these rising health care problems and dipping lifespans is try to get yourself as healthy as possible.

Fortunately, reclaiming your health is not rocket science. For starters, if you seek wellness, you’d be wise to ignore any and all food commercials and most conventional dietary advice, which still to this day promote dangerous low-fat myths and condone the use of artificial sweeteners. In fact, a health-promoting diet is more or less the conventional food pyramid turned upside-down.

Higher healthy fat consumption, lower sugar intake and increased omega-3, fiber and fermented foods are of particular importance. The shift from sugar to fat will allow your body to become an efficient fat burner, which has many tremendous benefits.

Also remember sitting kills; moving heals. Make it a point to engage in restful activity such as gardening or taking a slow walk with regular, brief, high intensity exercise leads to immediate changes in your body, including reprogramming your muscles for strength, and stimulating your fast-twitch muscle fibers, the latter of which increases production of human growth hormone.