How to live to 100 [6 lessons from people 100 + years old]

To be successful it is important to learn from the best. When it comes to sport or business we try to learn from those with the most experience. So if we have a goal of living a long and healthy life why don’t we do the same?

Well, that is exactly what we have done. We have distilled the tips from the legends who have lived longer than most.


  1. Get married and stay in touch with friends

Research shows that people surrounded by loved ones have a greater chance of living to 100. Be it a spouse, a community or a few loyal friends, having supportive people around you keeps your spirits up and helps you live longer.

According to a 2006 survey, “100 at 100” by health care provider Evercare, 82% of centenarians talk to friends and family every day. A great example is Opal Prater, 103 years of age who was married for 77 years and who loves to play Wii with her friends! 

On the flip side, those people who drift apart from their loved ones may find getting older much harder. In fact Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, asked the dying what their top five regrets were. Coming in at number four was “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”. 


  1. Get fussy about your food

Raw, organic, unprocessed food seems to come up often when quoting the most lived. When analysing certain cultures one can see patterns which makes for interesting reading:

According to the CIA World Factbook Japan has the world’s second highest life expectancy (behind Monaco), 84.74 years of age. Many of them come from the island of Okinawa. Okinawans not only eat a large amount of grains, veggies and fish but they also like to finish a meal when they feel 80 per cent satiated. Avoiding food in excess can reduce your risk of developing chronic ill-health, for example, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, helping you live longer and healthier.

When it comes to the highest proportion of 90 year olds in the world, the medal goes to the small Greek island of Ikaria. One theory to this population’s longevity is the thick mountain herbal tea that is drunk several times a day. The special brew contains a variety of local organic herbs including wild mint, rosemary, purple sage and spleenwort. Sounds pretty good! 


3. Be the glass half full person

Many of the oldest people in the world lived through two world wars and the great depression. Enough to depress most people! It is interesting to note, most of those who are still with us, have an infectiously positive attitude. 

Shortly before Orma Slack passed at 112 year of age, she had this to say; “Ever since I was a child, the world did not change for better or worse. Things don’t change, so go with the flow. I’ve never done anything special to help me get to my age, but the secret may be my positive attitude to people and life. I don’t recall ever saying a bad thing about a neighbour, family member or a friend”. 

It is thought that being an optimist leads to less stress. Stress has been linked to many chronic diseases and over time is deadly. For most of us being happy or sad is a simple choice we can make each day.


  1. Get in touch with your spiritual side

Embracing a higher calling has its benefits. It seems not being afraid of death frees people from the worry and anxiety that can come with getting older.

As an example Viola Crowson (101 years old), has gone to church every week for most of her life. Eric Easton (102 years old) on the other hand took up fishing so that he could “stand still and contemplate”. In fact according to a 2006 Evercare study, 62% of centenarians pray, meditate or engage in a spiritual activity every day.

If you are not religious the easiest place to start is to practice 20 minutes of meditation a day. According to the Mayo Clinic simply the act of silencing the noise around you and focusing internally can help ease stress and anxiety.

  1. Create daily fitness habits

It seems pretty obvious but staying fit and active keeps you younger for longer. The trick is creating healthy habits and sticking to them whenever you can.

Orma Slack volunteered at the Bellville Hospital until she was 104 years of age and even went skiing when she was 109. Not to be out done, Duranord Veillard, a 109-year-old from Spring Valley, N.Y., gets up at 5:00 a.m. every day and does five to seven push-ups!


  1. Be born to someone who has good genes

A truth we just have to accept is, genes play a huge role in longevity.

The oldest human ever verified to walk the planet was a French woman called Jeanne Calment. She passed away on August 4, 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days old. Calment was known to have the odd cigarette and ate more than two pounds of chocolate every week!

When you break it down it is the combination of environment and genes. Dr. Peter Muennig, an associate professor of health policy and management at Columbia University, summed it up best "Your behaviours move the clock forward or backwards, but the clock is it." 

So, if you want to move the clock in your direction you need to focus on changes to diet and exercise as well as those of the mind. How far will you move the clock back?



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