Living to 100

The average person has the ability to live to 90. Currently, there are about 2 million Americans in their 90s. By 2050, there will be about 10 million, according to Dr. Thomas Perls, author of Living to 100 and researcher in the study of aging at Boston University School of Medicine. He's also the founder of the New England Centenarian Study, the largest study of centenarians and their families in the world.

"What many people don't realize is that the power to control their genetic destiny and live longer can be largely in their hands," Dr. Perls says. "Most of us are built genetically to live to our 90s, but getting there – and getting there in really good shape - depends on our lifestyle choices and behaviors."

A positive attitude about aging will manage your stress and add a couple of years to your life, Dr. Perls adds. He also has this advice on keeping healthy as you age:

  • Pick an effective diet you can stick with and make sure you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Take advantage of brain building games and online social networks, like those on Having interests that keep your brain active is like body building for your brain and will add years to your life expectancy.
  • Many people don't know how important flossing is...not flossing can lead to inflammation, which can spread to the rest of the body, increasing your chances for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It's one of those important daily routines that is often overlooked, yet flossing daily can add 2 years to your life.
  • Exercising is huge. All you need to do is exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Grab a pedometer and walk home after work. You don't have to be a fanatic about exercising, but it is important to keep your muscles active just like keeping your brain active. Not exercising can take off 5 years of your life expectancy.
  • Check out my longevity calculator on to see how long you'll live.
  • Dr. Perls is a physician and researcher in the study of aging at Boston University School of Medicine. He attended the University of Rochester School of Medicine and received his medical residency training at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. He graduated as a Geriatrics Medicine Fellow at Harvard Medical School where he also began the New England Centenarian Study. Now in its thirteenth year, and funded by the National Institute on Aging, the New England Centenarian Study is the largest genetic and social study of centenarians and their families in the world ( ). Since 2002, the Centenarian Study has been based at Boston University School of Medicine and Medical Center where Dr. Perls is Associate Professor in Medicine and a Geriatrician.

    Having published findings from his research in numerous high profile journals such as Nature and Scientific American, Dr. Perls went on to publish his work for the lay public in the award winning book, Living to 100: Lessons in Maximizing Your Potential At Any Age. Accompanying his book is a longevity calculator on the internet at More than a million people per year from the USA and Canada take the quiz which also provides many helpful and tailor made tips about what the user is doing right and wrong as well as how many years they can add with specific changes.

    Centenarians represent a new paradigm of aging: The older you get, the healthier you've been. Though genetics plays an important role in getting to 100, the centenarian study and its collaborators show us that most people should be able to live to their late eighties in very good health. These 25 to 30 years beyond age 60 could mean a gold mine of new possibilities and vast potential for today's baby boomers and future generations.

    Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.