Japan is the world leader in lifespan, and on July 18, the leading Japanese medical expert on longevity died at age 105 in Tokyo. Today we offer some of his longevity hints, and also mention a recent study from the Journal of Gerontology that gives good news about people who live to 100 years.
Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was born in 1911, when the average person in Japan died before age 40. He had a colorful life. He treated victims of the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II. In 1970, he was a hostage for 4 days when the Japanese Red Army hijacked his airplane. Because he believed in advance planning, he helped save the lives of 640 victims of a terrorist gas attack on a Tokyo subway in 1995.
Dr. Hinohara wrote a children’s musical at age 88, and a best-selling book when he was 101. He took up golf after age 100, and was treating patients until the last year of his life. He believed that doctors needed to treat the patient as a whole, and not as an illness. Here are some of his hints.
Longevity hints from Dr. Hinohara
Avoid obesity. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Carry your own luggage and packages. Music, and the company of animals, has beneficial effects. Don’t ever retire, but if you do, do it much later than age 65. Eat lots of fish, vegetables, and olive oil. Minimize red meat. Have big visions, and be adventurous. He was a big fan of having a complete medical checkup every year. One of his most important rules was to remember to have fun. He said:
Have fun, no matter your age
“We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe we can keep that attitude as adults — it is best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.”
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said that Dr. Hinohara was “one of the persons who built the foundations of Japanese medicine.” Now Japan has the longest live expectancy in the world: 80 years for men, and 87 for women.
You might think that Dr. Hinohara is a rare case of a very old person who had a good life, and that most people who live to 100 years are in misery for their last years. If you believe that, you might consider the conclusions of a study just published by German researchers.
The last years of people over 100
The researchers studied the health records of 1,398 people. They compared the number of chronic health conditions they suffered in the last 3 months of their lives. These health conditions included problems such as high blood pressure, kidney failure, heart rhythm problems, and similar.
The people who lived to 100 or more had an average of 3.3 such conditions prior to their death, while those who died in their 80s had an average of 4.6 conditions. So perhaps, by following Dr. Hinohara’s health hints, you might live to 100, and it won’t be so bad.
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