How to score a century

Experts share their tips for a long and healthy life, so like the Indian-born Fauja Singh, who recently became the oldest man to successfully run a marathon, you too can live to a healthy 100

Last week, Indian-born 100-year-old Fauja Singh became the oldest man to complete a marathon. The London-based centenarian completed the 42-km distance in approximately eight hours at the Toronto waterfront to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

So, is age just a number? Runner Santhosh Padman-abhan, 32, thinks so. Santhosh advocates running one of the best forms of exercise, as it prevents cardiovascular disease, joint pains, reduces fat and tones muscles.

Fitness expert Nawaz Modi Singhania agrees that health and fitness go hand in hand, and suggests a mix of cardio and resistance training for 45 minutes every day after a warm-up.

"Running is a high-impact activity that affects the knees and back. Activities like jogging, hopping and skipping also pose a danger," says Modi-Singhania, who suggests brisk walking, dancing and swimming as 'safer' options.

You are what you eat
Nutritionist Anjali Peswani says that fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, pulses, 'good quality' protein including eggs, lean chicken, essential fatty foods in the form of nuts and oilseeds like flaxseed are among the best foods to arm oneself against the signs of ageing.

"You have to eat healthy to help keep your body and mind healthy," says Peswani, who advises following the age-old adage, 'Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper'. "It's never too early to start eating healthy and parents should inculcate healthy eating habits from a young age in children," she says.

Peswani advises staying away from processed and fried foods including wafers, cakes, margarine, butter, colas, sugar-coated foods and burgers, as they lead to weight gain, which result in health disorders including obesity and high blood pressure. For best results, a balanced diet must be combined with an exercise regime, she says.
Stress kills
Fitness expert Deanne Panday believes that stress is counter-productive to good health. "Stress accelerates the ageing process. It takes a toll on the entire body, also resulting in dull skin and hair," she says. Deanne advises breaking up the day into three eight-hour slots, one each for work, sleep and recreation, and cautions against smoking and alcohol.

"Life is all about problems and solutions," she says. "A sense of humour and positive outlook towards life are the secrets to a long life." says Panday, citing the example of her grandfather, who lived to the age of 102.

The skin is an organ too
Skin aesthetician Diya Dembla says that eating seasonal fruits and veggies is the perfect recipe for glowing skin. "Your skin is your protective sheet for all your vital organs," says Dembla, who compares the skin to the roof of the house. Pigmentation, acne and hives are a few examples of skin problems that signify that certain organs need attention.

According to Dembla, caring for the skin should begin as early as the age of six months. "The ageing process in women tends to be more prominent than in men, as women's ageing is largely related to the dip in oestrogen levels post menopause," says Dembla, who advises eating healthy and staying fit to ease the transition.

She adds, "Men don't experience a significant drop in any one hormone. Their ageing process is steady and less likely to yo-yo. Hence they age better."

The experts agree that regardless of gender, men and women would both do well to follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly and avoid stress to live a healthy and long life. While the solution is simple, it takes a lifetime to master.

Poor eating habits: Keeping a long gap in between meals, eating processed foods and oily foods can accelerate the process of ageing, as these foods leach the body of essential nutrients required by the body to heal its daily wear and tear.

Stress: While stress is not always avoidable, it is best to manage stress levels effectively, so that the risk of chronic illnesses, including blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases is reduced.

Alcohol has several toxins. These toxins interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients leading to alimentary tract and liver disorders.

Lack of physical activity will lead to weight gain and the release of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. Cortisol can lead to various life-threatening conditions, including obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, thyroid, blood pressure, depression and insomnia.

- Tips courtesy nutritionist Anjali Peswani

Five Tips to get off the couch
1  Choose the form of exercise you like best.
This is a great way to ensure that you will stick with it. If you don't favour an exercise, opt to walk for 30 minutes, most days a week.
2  Set goals. It is important to set both short and long-term goals, so that you continue to stay on track. Reward yourself each time you achieve a goal. Make sure you keep food off the list of rewards.
3  Build a collection of your favourite songs. Working out to music can be a great way to burn calories, as it changes your focus.
4  get yourself a workout buddy, if you need external motivation. Make sure he/ she will ensure that you make it to class/ gym/ track on time.
5  Listen to your body. Don't stress if you are not feeling up to it. Make it up the next day.

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