Centenarians on the increase in Arizona
By Bob Difley
Want to live a long time? Drive your RV to Arizona. The US Census reports that there were 832 centenarians in the state in 2010, a 27% increase since 2000. According to Anne Morrison, director of education for the University of Arizona’s Center on Aging, “Once they’ve hit 85, the healthy ones have shown they’re strong enough to overcome problems,” Morrison said. “If something hasn’t taken them before that, they’re good beyond 100.” In all, residents between 100 and 104 increased from 598 in 2000 to 772 in 2011. Those from 105 to 109 increased from 42 in 2000 to 53 in 2010.
There are a lot of contributors for the increase in old folks, like the improvements and discoveries in medical care, nutrition, and exercise. People smoke a lot less than previously, eat healthier food, and are generally more knowledgeable about their health and how to maintain it. And, believe it or not, falling down from slipping on ice or snow and breaking bones was a contributing factor to a shortened lifespan–and one of the reasons Arizona had such good numbers, there is not much of that down there.
“They’re starting to experience the vulnerabilities of aging, but they’re camping, hiking, biking,” said Melanie Starns, assistant director of the Arizona Department of Economic Service’s Aging and Adult Services division.
That’s good news. It means that a lot of the things that we RVers like to do–camping, hiking, biking–are the activities that keep us healthy and able to live longer lives.
There are trails wherever you happen to be. Some are for hiking only, some are especially good for biking, like the Rails to Trails Conservancy where former railroad beds have been converted into level, improved surface, hiking and biking trails–more than 30,000 miles of them. Many go through scenic areas inaccessible by any other means, while others wind through historic sites and small towns. Check out their trail finder to find a trail near your campground.
Check also the National Park Service’s National Recreation Trails, over 1,100 trails in all 50 states. So get out of that camp chair, tune up that bicycle, dig out the hiking boots, and get out there and enjoy life–you will probably have a lot more life to enjoy than you thought previously.
Check out my website for more RVing tips and destinations and for my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands, Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.