More than half of over-100 crowd exercises almost every day

Anybody who thinks they're too old to start exercising should take the results of a new study to heart. The seventh annual 100@100 survey polls 100 people who have reached the century mark, and the results show more than half of them exercise almost every day.

The study also revealed some other interesting tidbits about the healthy aging habits of some of the country's oldest residents. While walking was the most popular activity, with about 45 percent citing it as their exercise of choice, 11 percent practice some sort of mind-body activity such as yoga, 8 percent bike and 5 percent jog.

The findings also highlight the importance of staying socially engaged later in life. Around 89 percent of centenarians talk to a friend or family member each day, while 24 percent attend a social event, which is almost the same level as baby boomers (26 percent).

"Some people have the perception that the oldest members of our society sit alone in a nursing home all day, but this year's UnitedHealthcare 100@100 survey findings suggest that getting older doesn't necessarily mean becoming less socially active," said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. "While genetics and maintaining a healthy body are important factors in living well into the 100s, this year's survey participants have shown that staying socially engaged is just as important to healthy aging."

The survey emphasizes what many people already know - staying socially and physically active are important parts of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. A recent report from the Public Health Agency of Canada shed some light on just how true that is. Researchers found that 57 percent of seniors who have positive self-perceived health have daily social interaction.

As for physical activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite a number of reasons for staying active later in life. In particular, most experts point to decreased exercise and physical activity as the chief reason for the loss of strength and stamina. Additionally, it can also be a key factor for independent living and significantly reduces the risk of falls, coronary disease, colon cancer and other health issues.