People Who Have Lived to 100 Share Their Best Secrets for Living Longer

While turning 40 used to be considered “over the hill,” we might want to hold off on that mid-life crisis until 50 or later. More and more people are living to be 100 years old or older. If you would like to be among them, your habits and lifestyle have a lot to do with it.

If your parents or your grandparents lived to be 100, you may have good genes, but two thirds of what it takes to live that long is dependent on the choices you make. Don’t count on good genes alone. And, if you’ve never had a family member live to be 100, that doesn’t mean you can’t be the first one. Here are 9 secrets of people who lived to be 100.

  1. Take Care of Your Health

    Obviously, health is super important. Make sure you visit your doctor on a regular basis, and have a good relationship with your doctor. You want to be honest about any health problems you’re experiencing and work together to find solutions. Also, don’t smoke. People who smoke, in general, live 10 years less than people who don’t.

  2. Exercise and Stretch

    Tao Porchon-Lynch is 100 years old and still teaches yoga. Stretching helps with mobility and reduces your chance of falling as you get older. Downing Kay still takes a Zumba class every week, and she’s 111. If she can do it, anyone can!

  3. Eat Beans, Nuts and Vegetables

    “Blue Zones” are areas of the world where people live longer than anywhere else in the world. People in these areas have diets full of beans and vegetables. Leslie Brown lived to be 114, and her secret was eating a sweet potato every day. Research also suggests that eating nuts increases your life expectancy by 1.5 to 2.5 years.

  4. Don’t Be a Shut In

    It’s okay to relax at home, but it’s important to leave your house on a regular basis, ideally every day. Go for a walk. Meet friends for coffee. Do something social. Getting out of the house can be a fun way to exercise, and if you see friends or family on a regular basis they’ll know if your health suddenly takes a turn for the worse, which means you’re likely to see a doctor quicker than you would otherwise. At age 96, Honey Kimball puts on a cute outfit and does her makeup every day so that she’s always ready to go somewhere. We’re pretty sure she’ll still be getting all dolled up once she hits her 100th birthday.

  5. Have a Positive Attitude

    A sense of humor helps too. Researchers who studied personality traits of Ashkenazi Jewish people between the ages of 95 and 107 found that most of them had positive attitudes and a great sense of humor. Betty White isn’t 100 yet, but at age 97, she told Parade that one of her secrets to long life is to “accentuate the positive, not the negative.”

  6. Eliminate Stress from Your Life

    Easier said than done, we know, but it’s important to find a stress relief technique that works for you. According to Christopher Salem, DO, a geriatrician at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA, “High levels of stress weaken the immune system and open up the opportunity for disease to spread in the body.” More stress equals a shorter life. Salem adds that “most people who live to 100 have learned to go with the flow.” For Jessie Gallan, who lived to be 109 years old, she reduced stress in her life by avoiding men. She said “they’re more trouble than they’re worth.” That advice certainly won’t work for everyone, but it worked for her.

  7. Don’t Skip Breakfast

    When Erna Zahn turned 110, she shared that her secret was eating breakfast every day. Research has also shown that eating breakfast can help with weight loss, so win win.

  8. Give Back

    With age comes wisdom, and it can be incredibly uplifting to share that wisdom with others. Volunteering is a great way to do that.

  9. Believe in a Higher Power

    When he turned 108, Duranord Veillard shared that his faith in God was his secret to long life. It certainly worked for him. He lived to be 111 years old.