ORLANDO, Fla – About 2.7% of the U.S. population is 100 years old or older. And it’s not all in their genes! Research shows your genetic makeup only accounts for about 20% of your longevity.

So if you want to live to 100 and live well, experts say you should start preparing now!

“For many of my patients, what it comes down to is ‘How can I maintain my independence? How can I maintain my quality of life?’” said Dr. Jose Santana, an internal medicine physician.

Your top focus should be avoiding self-imposed health roadblocks. More than 80% of chronic diseases can be prevented with healthy behaviors.

“We can change a person’s quality of life, the ability to remain at home, the ability to remain independent,” Santana said.

First, stay active. People who are physically active for about seven hours a week have a 40% lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week. Experts say to incorporate aerobic activities, strength training and balance exercises.

“An elderly person who participates in balance activities, such as Tai Chi, is less likely to have falls,” said Santana.

Also, eat a healthy diet and don’t overeat. Research on centenarians has found they traditionally eat a diet low in calories and high in veggies. They also stop eating when they’re 80% full.

Next, stay socially engaged. One study found people with lots of social connections had a 50% greater likelihood of living longer than people with few or no social connections.

And get enough sleep. Research shows sleeping less than seven hours a night on a regular basis is linked to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, and an increased risk of death.

Another study that examined the personality traits of Ashkenazi Jewish people between the ages of 95 and 107 found most of them tended to have a positive attitude and a sense of humor, which suggests these traits play a role when it comes to longevity.

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