Here is some shocking news: According to a projection of the century-long rise in life expectancy published in The Lancet in October, 2009, more than half the children born since 2000 in wealthy countries can expect to celebrate their 100th birthday.

This New York Times article by Jane Brody continues in predictable ways: “ If so many of us are destined to become centenarians, it is all the more important to be able to enjoy those years unencumbered by chronic disease and disability. There is no virtue in simply living long; the goal should be to live long and well.”

This is certainly how I feel. My brother wrote that my anxiety about dying was what drove me to watch my diet and to exercise so passionately. I still disagree. I want to be fit and mobile as I grow older.

“But while much is known about how to raise the odds of a healthy old age, only a minority of Americans incorporate into their lives what is likely to give them the biggest bang for their buck…

“After decades of government guidelines and advice from friends, family and physicians, Americans have made some improvements in their eating habits. On average, we consume less red meat and saturated fat and somewhat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables…

“But, and this is a big but, we are a long way from consuming the kind of diet most closely linked to a low risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and dementia. That diet need not be strictly vegetarian, but it should emphasize plant-based foods over the meat and other products that come from animals that eat plants. The closer to the earth we eat, the healthier — and leaner — we are likely to be…

“The second crucial ingredient is regular physical exercise. The single most effective activity, studies have found, is an aerobic activity like brisk walking — about 30 minutes a day. If you can’t get out of the house, walk inside. Go up and down stairs, walk the hall, walk from room to room, walk in place. If walking doesn’t suit you, try dancing to music…

“So get off the couch and make this year the year you discover the joys and benefits of movement.”

The article has lots of good hyperlinks to other articles that you may find beneficial, and I will post excerpts from some of them soon.