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Habits to Increase Longevity

Seven Habits That Science Says Increase Longevity

Sarita Harbour

As more people live well into their 90s and even surpass their 100th birthdays, scientists and researchers are studying just what they’re doing (and not doing) to maintain longevity.

Research shows that during the 30-year period from 1980 to 2010, the number of centenarians (people age 100 or older) grew by almost 66%. In fact, the most recent U.S. Census report estimates that as of July 2019 there were 100,322 centenarians. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that people born in the U.S. today can expect to live to about the age of 77, nearly 25 years longer than those born 100 years ago.

If you’re wondering what you can do to extend your life, but don’t like the idea of drastically changing your lifestyle and diet, you’re in luck. You can ease yourself into many of the lifestyle, diet and exercise habits of the world’s longest-living people. That is, if you aren’t already making these easy-to-live-with choices.

Take a look at these seven habits of people who enjoy long lives, and learn how to incorporate them into your daily life to boost the chances of increasing your longevity.

1. Drink (a Little) and Take Your Time With Meals.

National Geographic fellow and journalist Dan Buettner has carried out extensive research on the dietary and lifestyle choices in so-called “Blue Zones.” These zones are parts of the world identified by scientists as having unusually long-living inhabitants. The five Blue Zones currently include:

  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Icaria (Ikaria), Greece
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Loma Linda, California

Buettner’s research uncovered the fact that one of the noticeable traits of some Blue Zone inhabitants is that they enjoy life, including drinking wine—in moderation—and relaxing over long meals.

For example, the long-living residents of Sardinia and Ikaria enjoy small glasses of wine on a daily basis. They also take a long time to eat their main meal of the day, enjoying it with family and friends.

And, researchers at Stanford University’s School of Medicine found evidence that the caffeine present in coffee or tea correlates to reduced inflammation as we age, contributing to the drinker’s longevity. So enjoying a small glass of wine with a leisurely family meal and following it up with a small cup of coffee on a regular basis could help you live longer.

2. Eat Bread, Meat and Desserts…Sometimes.

It should come as no surprise that people with longer-than-average lifespans eat lots of fruits and vegetables. However, you may not know that many of them also don’t shy away from eating bread, meat and desserts.

Religious occasions, birthdays, and anniversaries—along with their associated special meat and dessert dishes—are common in the countries where people live the longest. Yet researchers have discovered that Blue Zone inhabitants enjoy small portions of these dishes and don’t focus on them as the main part of the meal.

In Okinawa, the diet is heavy on vegetables and rice but includes small amounts of meat stir-fried into the main dish, providing protein but low calories. Loma Linda, California is home to the long-living Seventh-Day Adventist community where inhabitants live about 10 years longer than the average American. Here, most of the population avoids meat. However, they do enjoy whole grains—a common food among the five Blue Zone communities.

3. Prioritize Being Active Over Going to the Gym.

Living longer in good health requires regular physical activity. But don’t worry—you don’t have to start training to run a marathon.

Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, an NIH geriatrician, believes that if you want to live longer, you should prioritize staying active: “Exercise is especially important for lengthening active life expectancy, which is life without disease and without physical and mental/thinking disability.”

However, that doesn’t mean hitting the gym. Indeed, interviews with individuals who have lived to age 100 or older reveal that a gym membership wasn’t even on their radar. Instead, their daily routines include lots of walking, gardening or swimming.

Doesn’t that sound doable? If you want to live longer, hang up your weight belt. Instead, replace strenuous weight lifting and cardio routines with walking, working in the garden, swimming and other gentle physical activities. Try to get in at least a 30 minute brisk walk daily.

4. Don’t Retire.

Everywhere you look you’ll see advice about saving for retirement, preparing for retirement and how to enjoy retirement. However, as reported in the Harvard Business Review, researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) found a surprising tidbit when studying data from the Health and Retirement Study. This longitudinal study began in 1992 and includes participants who retired in 2010. The OSU researchers found that, although most of the participants retired at age 65, those who retired at age 66 actually had an 11% lower mortality rate. So working longer may contribute to longevity.

There is still much work to be done in the study of retirement age and longevity. However, many studies show that feeling like you’re contributing to society and keeping active in your community all contribute to a longer life.

So if working makes you feel good, don’t retire! Consider your specific situation—perhaps you could work part-time or work from home. Or you could leave your primary job and work as a consultant where you set your own hours or work on short projects. If your work brings you joy, stick with it.

5. Grow Your Own Foods.

One common trait of Blue Zone inhabitants is that their heavily-plant-based diets depend on food they grew themselves. In addition to the beneficial daily physical activity required to plant, weed and maintain a garden, growing their own food lets people enjoy a “less-processed” diet, including raw or lightly stir-fried fruits and veggies.

Including more fruits and vegetables in your diet can improve your health and help you live longer. However, do ensure that the greens you eat are fresh and free from chemicals. And instead of buying them from a grocery store where you don’t know if they’ve been exposed to harmful pesticides or other chemicals, enjoy foods from your own garden.

Begin “growing your own” vegetables and herbs in a small garden plot. If you’re unfamiliar with gardening, start small by planting some herb seeds (try basil) in a pot to set on your windowsill. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, are also good “starter” vegetables as they’re easy to grow indoors in pots.

6. Enjoy Daily Spiritual Practice and Reading.

If you feel better after your daily meditation or prayers, it shouldn’t surprise you to find out that statistics show that the majority of people who live to ages over 100 have a strong faith. In addition to quiet individual spiritual practice they often enjoy participating in their own religious community and attending regular church services.

But if pursuing a daily spiritual practice doesn’t interest you, start a daily reading practice to boost longevity instead.

A recent study found that book lovers live longer. According to the study carried out by Yale University researchers, people who read reduced their mortality rate by an astounding 20% more than non-readers during the 12 years following the study!

7. Maintain Strong Ties to Family, Friends and Community.

As both studies and interviews show, healthy, loving relationships and a strong social network has emerged as another key to a long and healthy life.

In the Harvard longitudinal study, study director Robert Waldinger said, “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.” Over the 80-year course of the study, researchers concluded that close relationships were an important part of happiness, which has been found to help protect against and delay the mental and physical decline that leads to death.

And, as it turns out, a strong social network can include your online and social media network. In fact, a study carried out by the University of California San Diego and Yale University in collaboration with Facebook, found that using Facebook correlated to a longer life. That is, as long as you’re using it to keep up with your real-life social relationships.

To maintain and improve your social relationships, make a point of staying connected to your friends and family members near and far. Look for opportunities to volunteer in your community. You can also join a club or take a class where you’ll meet new people who could become friends. Think of maintaining relationships as a form of self-care that may add years to your life.

Go Forth and Conquer.

Making lifestyle changes and introducing new habits can be easier if you introduce them gradually.

  • Tackle one or two habits at a time.
  • Enjoy smaller portions at meal times, and start taking a 30-minute walk with your spouse or a friend each evening.
  • Invite friends, neighbors or family members over for a potluck meal with a glass of wine once in a while.
  • Check out a few new books from the library, and plant a few tomato plants.
  • And look for regular opportunities to participate in a gentle physical activity that you enjoy with family or friends whom you like.

After all, if you’re going to live longer, you want to have some fun!

woman living a happy life

Share and inspire in the comments: Volunteer? Travel? Exercise?  What power habits do you have that are helping you live a happier life? 

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83 Responses to "Seven Habits That Science Says Increase Longevity"
    • Barry Horowitz | August 6, 2022 at 11:24 am

      This was great reading, and falls in line with what my wife and I believe. I will be 78 in February(my wife is 78) and we started changing our diet at 50. We both joined Team in Training (a charity for Leukemia) that trains you on a monthly basis to run a full 26.4 mile full marathon. We did complete this, but both agreed never again. We do drink wine each evening, and have transition from beef to a healthy diet. We do walk 3 to 5 times a week, and hopefully will get back to vacations and walking in new and exciting outdoor places.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 10:15 am

        This is great to hear, Barry! We’re glad you liked our article and that you’ve made changes to be healthier. Thank you for commenting!

    • Etta Alston | July 27, 2022 at 3:12 am

      I am 51, about to turn 52 on Thursday, July 28th. I have had a really rough life (health wise). I have had 3 cancers (Hodgkins Lymphoma, Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer). The first cancer, I found myself. There was a knot that formed in my neck that I knew wasn’t there before. The second cancer almost took my life! The third…I went in for my annual colonoscopy…and there the cancer was AGAIN! Only this time it was lower down in my colon, making it Rectal Cancer. I’m not going to go into all the chemo drugs (IV and pills), radiation, and surgeries I’ve gone through. There is no family history of any of these cancers. I was told that I have inherited some type of gene that causes me to have multiple cancers. I have been treated as though I have Lynch Syndrome (whatever that is). Long story short, I don’t know if there is anything I can do to live longer because I was born with a predisposition.

    • Julia A. Sampson | July 25, 2022 at 6:50 pm

      I retired 2 years ago, from a very stressful job, but I am lonely, I do go to church, to the gym, but i have been alone for 21 years, The “dating” sites are awful, and men in bars are not for me. I rent a room, so I can’t have a dog, orentertain friends. I’m 67. My older son isn’t speaking to me, There’s no grandchildren. The isolation is what is hard to live with.

    • Frank Souza | July 24, 2022 at 5:27 pm

      I’ll be 80 on Oct, this year, I get up about 5am, and walk 8 miles almost every day.

    • ROBERT SEEKAMP | July 23, 2022 at 12:29 pm

      I am in my 98th year and in good health (based on my latest annual physical) as I write this and would like to share my recipe for a long life for whatever value it may have for your readers:
      a. Be born to a family with good genes (my father lived to 92. If not part of your gene pool, concentrate on eating veggies and fruit)
      b. Do not smoke or ingest caffeine in any form!
      c. Exercise regularly. (I do 180 minutes of cardiovascular exercises a week)
      d. Eat a balanced diet, low in red meat.
      e. Maintain a positive attitude toward life (I read mostly inspirational literature)

      • Extra Mile Staff | July 25, 2022 at 7:27 am

        Thank you for sharing your experience, Robert!

      • Stephen Chillis | July 25, 2022 at 11:45 am

        I find the article to be helpful. I will certainly share this knowledge w Friends and Family. Thank You

    • Bernadine | July 23, 2022 at 10:13 am

      Great article with interesting and sensible suggestions! Thank you.

    • David March | July 23, 2022 at 10:11 am

      thank you I appreciate the information,

    • Ely C. | July 23, 2022 at 10:02 am

      Interesting and informative advice. I turned 90 last week and have met most of the “habits” over my many years. I retired at age 80 from a fulfilling professional career in academia. I am committed to 30+ minute walking every day, am a vegetarian and have coffee for breakfast along with nice desserts. However, I don’t grow food, I just eat it. I can’t provide more information right now, since I’m about to take my daily walk. OK, I’ll walk fast!

    • Carol E Harris | July 23, 2022 at 10:00 am

      I am 77 and in great shape. I am very active maintaining my home, and running a food pantry with my spouse. I talk my Boston Terrier pup for long walks daily. I take Balance of Nature fruit and Vegetable vitamins to supplement my diet. Also take magnesium, and drink coffee once daily.

    • Keith D. Guernsey | July 21, 2022 at 3:23 pm

      Excellent advice!

    • "nena" Visitacion Leticia s. de alban | March 16, 2021 at 2:21 am

      I feelvery healthy at my age 78 going 79 by April 9. I keep on walking inside the house. exercise 3-5 minutes 3 times a day, eat vegetable, drink coffee sometimes, green tea and guava leaves tea and take CoQ10, I pray 3 hours or more sometimes daily. I always pray for the souls in purgatory, hopefully , they’ll remember me too when my time comes. God bless us all!

    • Healthy Lifestyle Is Important | July 23, 2020 at 12:38 pm

      I have been checking out many of your posts and it’s nice stuff. I will definitely bookmark your website.

    • Work Life Balance Tips And Techniques | March 11, 2020 at 3:07 pm

      This seems like such a good idea, will have to take a look at it!

    • Dave Greene | January 25, 2020 at 6:05 pm

      Seems like so many commenters live to be over75, have a wonderful life, trouble free. What about the vast numbers who are not so fortunate?

    • Sharon Daniels | December 22, 2019 at 11:19 pm

      Good information especially about 30 minutes of exercise a day. It is hard to make yourself go out and walk in the cold and rain. So? Walk around the house at least 15 minutes a couple times a day. Volunteering can be very rewarding unless it is hard, stressful work. Pay attention to your body and do the volunteering to fit your physical and mental capabilities. Yes, some people will want you to do things that are not suited to your abilities. Watch out for them.

    • Roxanne Vierra | December 22, 2019 at 2:30 pm

      Interesting. One omission is good genes. I’m lucky that my family is long-lived; Dad passed this year at 95. I see these suggestions for longevity as contributing to my chances. Also, though retired, I volunteer frequently by ushering at local theatres and get to see lots of plays and shows for free! Lastly, pets really do enhance your life; our cats make every day a joy.

    • Barbara Jones | December 22, 2019 at 1:00 pm

      I have reached 85 and still try to do everything I am still able to. Just got through making Christmas for 15 families and did it all in 2 days. I try to eat well most of the time, enjoying my great grand kids, and do have some social life. I have no complaints and take every day as a good day.

    • JUDITH GRIFFIN | December 21, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      I’d like to suggest tai chi as a tremendous activity for staying ‘in life’. The program developed by Dr Paul Lam has been a tremendous inspiration. When I depart my three-times-weekly tai chi practice group I feel as though I’ve been rejuvenated. Highly recommended.

    • mabel schrenk | December 20, 2019 at 6:48 pm

      I am 95 I do not take any drugs I still drive, take care of myself, cook. I do not exersixe I walk alittle.I guess I am just lucky

    • Terry Grimme | December 20, 2019 at 5:35 pm

      I firmly believe that not taking medications extends life. Maybe it’s in my genes because my Mother didn’t take any till she was well into her 80’s & lived till 92. I’ll just keep taking the supplements!!

    • Sheila | December 17, 2019 at 7:32 pm

      This is so important to hear such a large number of individual stories. I just want to add something I have not heard yet…That is the mindfulness of understanding that your Creator is also within each of us and therefore, gives each of us the opportunity to speak to him or her and ask daily for good health, opportunities and longevity if that’s what you want. You will be “Amazed” at the results!

      • Lynn | July 23, 2022 at 10:08 am

        Sheila, I agree 100%!

    • John Logger | November 18, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      I like this interesting post, and human’s longevity can be indefinetely extended being discovered by Allen Omton and Serge Dobrow.
      John Logger

    • Kathy Manie | August 30, 2019 at 3:35 pm

      This is such an inspiring article, thank you for the brilliant mind that composed it so well! It is also true and what I believed all along, but when someone else confirms it and it’s in words, it does have more of an impact…

      And, to Gloria at 82 years, for all that you are doing, I commend you and pray that God willing, i can be like you…

      Blessings to All!

    • Eric Hysong | July 30, 2019 at 7:59 pm

      I am a firm believer that it does not matter how you live your life, whether you are a health fitness nut, or not. I think we all have a number “up there”, and whenever your number comes up you are gone. Just saying. So just live every day to the fullest because it may be your last.

    • Gloria Schultz | July 30, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Volunteer work should be advocated. I’m 82 and am a “Big Sister” to a primary student, help a neighbor who is a stroke victim, teach three Bible classes (one at a homeless shelter where I’ve befriended some ex-cons) vacuum, dust and clean toilets on a schedule at church. I have only one medication and work out with Zumba and Cardio classes at the YMCA, and play tennis twice a week. My health is great and I find much joy in what I do.

    • steve | July 30, 2019 at 12:24 am

      Retire early. meaning do things you at least can partly enjoy doing. Shake it up. Variety is spice. No one else knows what makes each of us work. There will be plenty of time to lay around. Clean water air food not contaminated with all abominable things. Get used to your station if happy with it. Always willing to learn, Plan a life suited for you. a new car could be nice, at what cost? Exercise that makes money or makes you happy, usually meaning constructive exercise . Running on asphalt with car exhaust not for everyone. Ranch life suites me. I make my self happy. Not at all concerned about what others think of it. I am older now. occasionally I will be asked if I am retired? That is a joke for me. No such thing exists. When I drop dead fast, not slowly , I will then be retired. Steve Colton Seligman AZ

    • Paula Duvall | July 30, 2019 at 12:20 am

      At 75, having been retired for 15 years, I remain blessed with excellent health, as I have throughout my life. Hubby passed-away 15 years, but I find that taking a European vacation every couple of years, and riding my exercise-bike a whopping 30 MILES each and every day have helped me beat depression and sadness at losing my Best Friend. If younger people whine and complain, I always find myself being grateful for being gifted with a long and healthy life, with much Wisdom to share. Had a friend, since passed-away, who was my parents’ age — born in 1921. He told me: “Growing-old is NOT for ‘sissies’, Paula!” Occasional muscle-aches are something new, and a little sciatica, now and then, but they teach me to be respectful and patient, since my body has seen me through nearly 80 years of trouble-free service! I see my doctor every October. She asks me how I’ve been, does a breast-exam, since I had a Type 0 cancer removed 20 years, ago, renews my 2 prescriptions, then says: See you next year!” For me, Life is VERY Good, and I am VERY grateful! Each day is a Gift to make the most of! Blessings to all!

    • Henry halle | July 29, 2019 at 7:45 pm

      How uninformed. Go to the gym and workout and swim aggressively. Don’t just walk, run in all respects.

    • Nancy | July 29, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      I have no desire whatever to live to be 100, but do aspire to be healthy and active while I am still here!

    • Joseph B. Mahaney | July 28, 2019 at 3:36 pm

      This will work well for me at age 76 but I have several friends that are recovering alcoholics which make several of the suggestions involving a glass of wind difficult.

    • NEIL CAMERON / 6443 | July 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

      Turned 79 two weeks ago. Still feel physically like I did 45 years ago. No aches, no pains, no prescriptions.
      Still busy writing and churning out books. Translated the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John from
      the Greek of 2000 years ago into modern-day American English a few months ago. Took me 25 days. Am
      now doing the book of Revelation. Really easy Greek! Won’t take more than three or four days. Have lots
      of other book projects in progress. Also am doing more and more videos to put on YouTube. Get up every
      morning feeling like I’m good for another 30 years. Have never been a drinker or a smoker. Have been a
      vegetarian for 60 years. Have a lifelong habit of refusing to worry about anything at all. Have also never
      married. Whether that helps stay young, I don’t know. Companionship could be nice! But at my advanced age!

    • Alan | July 28, 2019 at 7:50 am

      If one is already living longer and being more productive, one is going to live longer and be productive!

    • Theodore | July 28, 2019 at 3:48 am

      Mixing up cause and effect.
      You are not healthy because you drink wine, you drink wine because you are healthy

    • Marie C Smith | July 28, 2019 at 2:29 am

      I liked all your suggestions. My comment is that at the end you summarize, and skipped the Spiritual practice aspect , but added “Check out a few new books from the library, and plant a few tomato plants”.

      I believe there have been several studies that found Spiritual practices do improve longevity, maybe the next article will be about that. I hope so.

    • Carol | July 28, 2019 at 12:50 am

      For those with disabilities try water aerobics, exercises at the kitchen sink counter, and chair yoga. Do what you can do and don’t compare yourself to others.

    • Kris | July 27, 2019 at 9:01 pm

      I’ll be 75 in August. My mom’s sister at 101 years of age follows the advice in this article. Lessons Learned about MRSA from my mom’s untimely passing at age 94: wash your hands a lot; avoid pressing elevator buttons with your finger (instead use knuckle) and also leave off shaking hands (instead do the elbow-to-elbow touch greeting).
      Join (or organize) a Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) emergency preparedness group. To combine exercise with maintaining independence and volunteering in the community, join (or organize) a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Physical abilities vary at any age. One of our CERT team’s mantras is “know your limits.” Another is “you’re not required to hurt yourself”–good advice also for those who like exercising at a gym.

    • Michael Luther | July 27, 2019 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you for your encouraging statements that correspond exactly to what I observe when I am with people that have led a life that glows with gratitude.
      When I ” time stamp” myself I open up an opportunity for those younger and older than me to be judgemental.
      I am one day older than I was yesterday.
      Each day is precious to me and I find argument to be a waste of time. If you like to argue, then go for it some place away from me.
      Statistical analysis is awesome scientific stuff: If I am lying across a chair, in the kitchen, and my feet are in the oven and my head is in the freezer then, on the average, I am doing OK.
      If you are inconvenienced by either end of the spectrum, try showing us how tough, resilient, kind, non complaining and gracious you are.
      I hope to be considered a good person, 100 years ++ from now.

      Mike Luther

    • Louis | July 27, 2019 at 7:48 pm

      I am nearly 95 years old, holding to the acronym DESSS which stands for Diet, Exercise, Sleep, Supplements and you will have to guess what the last S represents.

    • Pat | July 27, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      Tomato plants need full sun to produce fruit. A 5-gallon bucket from the local hardware store on the patio does great. Just make sure it gets enough full sun.

      • Extra Mile Staff | July 30, 2019 at 11:59 am

        hi Pat, thanks for the advice!

    • Lorraine | July 27, 2019 at 4:44 pm

      I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at 53 years old and told I wasn’t expected to live long. I did not get upset and never felt sorry for myself. I went to another doctor who agreed to perform a stem cell transplant that the first doctor would not. I am now three years post transplant going to the gym and growing my own vegetables. Still not stressing over what I went through. Is this what you call mind over matter? Maybe my attitude pulled me through. I am not afraid of death, its just another thing to me.

    • Flora | July 27, 2019 at 3:59 pm

      I am 94 and going strong…I feel my longevity started in my childhood and followed through my entire lifetime. Always moving, walking, traveling, dancing, loving, socializing, bowling, golfing, and most of all, feeling important to everyone and everybody. I retired from my real estate sales job when I moved from MN to Sun City West, AZ. Everyone should retire where there are activities and facilities to enjoy around them. But, most people can not have that opportunity. I am still golfing 9 holes in the wintertime here, but did have to stop throwing bowling balls a few years ago, as I tore tendons. I was an officer in several clubs here, and participate in many. I play the organ everyday. Music is important and very comforting.

    • June Fox | July 27, 2019 at 3:20 pm

      Great article, thanks!

    • R. Ganas | July 27, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      Dogs. Already have a dog? Great! —then you know what they give you. Don’t have a dog? Adopt one! ..or volunteer at the humane society to walk their dogs that are waiting to find homes.

    • Glenn Vasey | July 27, 2019 at 2:56 pm

      Regarding the “Don’t Retire” advice:
      Was there any control for folks who retired at the earliest opportunity because of failing health, or were they just left in the statistics? If they weren’t somehow excluded, the 11% seems a small increase for people who felt good enough to work an additional year. If that is the case the advice should be “Don’t have medical issues”, which, of course, is a no brainer.
      I think “Remain engaged after Retirement would be better advice.

    • Bill Smith | July 27, 2019 at 2:48 pm

      Wine, sure, I would drink it if it didn’t give me a headache. I will continue with drinking a beer. I do wish I could drink wine.

      As far as skipping the gym: yes and no. As a massage therapist for 28 years, I know that we develop muscle imbalances over time, that left alone, get even worse. A common imbalance as we get older can be seen with people who have rounded shoulders and suffer from poor posture. Working on stretching the chest and strengthening the back will help with this condition. Many other conditions also exist that are helped by going to the gym. Believe me, I am an avid hiker, but if I am to keep doing the activities I like into my 90’s, the gym is essential to my activity list.

    • Charles Hansbrough | July 27, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      I,m just past my 90th and feel like I’ve won the lottery : after 3 cancers, 1 stint and 50 years of basking in tobacco- alcohol debauchery, I remain active and happy…Blind luck.

    • Teresa | February 17, 2019 at 12:54 pm

      This is great information. I believe I’ll head over to Dave & Busters and play a few fun games today instead of the gym.

      • Extra Mile Staff | February 18, 2019 at 2:08 pm

        Thanks Teresa! Count us in.

    • Peter | January 20, 2019 at 5:57 am

      I am 71, and have so far had good health, in part because of good genes, but also because of healthy eating and exercise. Several years before retiring from a great but very stressful job, I offered to become the neighborhood grandpa to a couple who had moved to the house across ours shortly before their first child was born – which they immediately accepted because both their parents lived out of state. When I retired, I told them that since I would have more time, I was going to offer to do more things for them so they would have more time for their two children. It has been a very satisfying for me, and has added a dimension to my sharing and receiving of love.

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 22, 2019 at 2:00 pm

        Thanks for sharing your experience Peter!

    • Marlene Franklin | January 20, 2019 at 2:33 am

      I am 79 and counting. I retired from U.S. Government after 42 years (1957-1999). I worked 17 years for the Executive Branch of Government, Article II; I transferred to the Judiciary, Article III. I am knowledgable about the United States Constitution and the three tiers of government: Article I, II, and III. I returned to complete my education and graduated from DePaul University School for New Learning June 2010. I was 70-1/2 years of age. At this time, I am gathering, reading and writing about my lifestyle and lifelong learning experience. I am fortunate to be a descendant of two people, my grandfather’s grandparents. My Mother’s father was born 1898 and his Mother was born in 1879. They all were alive when I was born. My reflections from family pictures are my memories of their legacy. My education in the liberal arts and the fashion industry inspire me to be creative in sharing my heritage. I hope to publish my book and host a book signing. Stay tuned, I hope to see all soon. Ben Franklin said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Smart is the new Pretty. I’m Book Smart and I’m Blessed by the Grace of GOD to be alive. Marlene

      “I am not what I used to be was; I am now what I now am is.” Life is good and my book will be written from the “I AM” perspective.

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 22, 2019 at 1:59 pm

        Thank you for sharing, Marlene! Good luck with your book.

    • April Agostinello | January 1, 2019 at 8:10 pm

      Awesome article!! Although I am only 38, I am disabled and unable to work. I have a rare condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, and need surgery on my back and both feet. Two months ago, I was going about my business and opened my eyes, looked around and realized I was in a hospital. I immediately hit the nurse button to find out what on Earth happened and how/why I was there. They came rushing in and were so shocked that I was awake and talking to them! They said that they were not expecting me to pull through. They said that my heart rate was in the low 30’s for the past 5 days that I’ve been in the intensive Care unit and that I was in kidney failure and having seizures. I have no memory of anything at all, and still am not sure of what point I stopped remembering. They asked me who the President was, and I said Al Gore!!! Haha. My whole family was under the impression that I was never going to walk out of the hospital and were preparing for my final arrangements.
      I have a whole new outlook on life now and it’s so scary to realize that without any warning whatsoever, any minute can be your last! I have a whole new understanding of how valuable every second of my life is, and how important it is to take better care of myself so that I can be here to maybe become a Grandma one day and experience life to it’s fullest! This article gave me some inspiration and ideas to focus on! Though walking is not one of my strong points, low impact activities such as swimming can provide the exercise I need, and swimming with friends can add to the enjoyable social activities that make you come back for more! I don’t know many people who live nearby, so perhaps I could inspire other disabled people who might be interested and create our own swim-social group and possibly make some new friends along the way! I do love gardening, but always limited myself to do it during the summer months… I guess I didn’t think about growing my tomatoes in a pot kept in a sunny window! I am digging out my seeds and planting them TODAY! My advice to all of you is DON’T WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW for anything you can do TODAY! Tomorrow may never come, so live life to the fullest now! Don’t plan on statistics saying you should live to your 70’s or 80’s or more and you have plenty of time left to do the things you want! Enjoy it now, and enjoy more tomorrow when it comes! Be kind to everyone and your spirit WILL live forever in all of the lives you’ve touched along the way!

      • Extra Mile Staff | January 2, 2019 at 1:09 pm

        April, you are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your experience and Happy New Year!

    • David Smith | November 7, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Love to read successful retiree”s stories. I think the truth of the matter is to do exercise,volunteering, eating, and drinking in moderation AND pick the ones you enjoy. That will lead to an enjoyable life regardless of length.

    • Amelia BALTAZAR ABAYA | September 2, 2018 at 12:10 am


    • Jose Garrido | August 19, 2018 at 2:37 am

      I moved from Daly City to Fairfield City, CA and enjoying a non-stressful life. Hopefully,we’ll live longer with no pressure from unplanned daily schedules.

      • Mary Rishe | March 4, 2021 at 12:56 pm

        I am moving to LA in one year but I am concerned it will be difficult to make friends. I will join a church and if I can afford to join a class or two I will but I need to work to be able to live in California. I just want to be around my children so I am leaving NYS. Any suggestions on where to find a nice group of woman in their 50’s that like to hike, exercise, dance, bike, cook, have fun?

        Hopeful I get a response. 🙂

    • Richard Tiff | August 18, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      I agree with most of your research and try to practice most things recommended. I am 80 and still work part time at a senior facility. I have found that a plant based diet is the way to go for most of your diet, with a few exceptions. Thanks for article.

    • Maxey | August 18, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      71 & still working my 40 hours at a relaxed productive pace with no date in mind to retire. I chat with coworkers every day, and schmooze with everyone I meet. I walk around the block during my two fifteen minute breaks at work. My wife of 48 years and I travel extensively & enjoy our intimacy. I read a book a week, drink coffee and eat in moderation. Life is sweet!

    • Dilip Desai | July 1, 2018 at 2:57 am

      I will be 70 in December. Working 3 days in a month.
      My activities are any of the following in a day.
      Prayanam; meditation; yoga; swimming;tennis; la fitness; learning Spanish; playing Indian musical instrument and reading.
      In short I want to live healthy.

    • Cleo Castellanos | June 25, 2018 at 3:57 am

      I have retired several times but am now working full time again at 85.5 as our library director. i have a little wine with my evening meal, eat organics primarily, and just enjoy life.

    • Judy C Conrad | June 22, 2018 at 6:35 pm

      Enjoyed reading each person’s story. Seems they have made positive changes in their life. Good luck to all!!!

    • Normand | June 22, 2018 at 1:50 am

      Work in the garden? Go to church? Keep working at a job? Etc etc.
      ,You call that living ?…. I believe the majority of sane people would like to die younger but enjoy their shorter life.

    • Susan Gabriele | June 12, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      I don’t find it mentioned often enough : do volunteer work. We retired early (62) because we hated our jobs, but keep busy with volunteer work: Lions Club, local food pantries, taking care of our grandchildren. It’s worth living on less money and enjoying what we’re doing.

    • Mary Lou Graham | June 4, 2018 at 2:44 am

      Went to a 90th Birthday of friend,Dick. He is still working and so is his wife at 77!!👏👏

    • susan gunn | June 4, 2018 at 12:51 am

      even if you can only achieve small stretches & are unable to be really active…try
      deep breathing as a conscious meditative practice.
      this will relax you & relieves our chronic anxiety.
      deep conscious breathing. try it to a count of 10 breathes.
      count five seconds aloud on intake
      hold for another cojnt of five
      exhale slowly to a count of 5 too.
      you will immediately begin to feel the benefits.
      your brain will focus as it should on the breath….

      simple. anyone can do it.
      no excuses.

    • Sandraperry | May 24, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      I retired worked part time walked ,climbed stairs all day long ,house work gardening.Then I reconnected with and old man friend and started traveling everywhere.He is a retired pilot.We fave flown Alaska,moved him to Nevada first we flew the plane down then we drove his truck csmoervwith a high trailer down the AlCan to Nevada.Drove to Dsllas Texas loaded two trailers with all my belongings and he and I drove to Louisville Kentucky where we are in the process of moving into our new condo tomorrow.I am from Louisville.We plan to travel from Nevada to Louisville.My family is here His is in Nevada.Wecwent to New Hampshire for Christmas.I had spent three months in Hawaii prior to starting the Alaska travels.My granddaughter and her husband were in the Aur Force.We never stop.After our move we are headed to California and a June wedding.Life for me is wonderful today.Last June I thought my life was over I was in the hospital getting a heart catherization .The next month I was up and gone and never looked back.It is never too late.

      • Extra Mile Staff | May 24, 2018 at 3:29 pm

        Thanks for sharing your story. So inspiring!

    • Pamela Bowser | May 24, 2018 at 3:27 am

      I retired in 2005 after 27 years with the City of Carson, California, relocated to Midland, Texas with my fiancé. I continued part time work and played golf three days a week and love gardening. However, I relocated back to California to take care of my Alzheimer mother. After her death, I purchased a home and have been working part time and will forever grow as many tomatoes, artichokes, and plants around my home. I also work part-time at Popeye’s!

    • Marcia | May 24, 2018 at 12:02 am

      Similar question to Karen Casenek and Patricia but sever osteoarthritis. I have already had two hip replacements, one knee replacement, two major back (and one neck) surgeries. Nothing is pain free. No way in the world can I do a Downward Facing Dog Yoga move. I still force movement even on really bad days – housework, stairs, things of this nature. I am doing repetitions of simple leg lifts while lying on the bed and small weight lifts for the arms. Any other suggestions?

    • Ramiro Valdez | May 23, 2018 at 9:49 pm

      Great information which must be read everywhere

    • Patricia | May 19, 2018 at 1:12 am

      I have the same question as Karen Cesanek

    • Phyllis | March 27, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Good article. Thank you.
      Tomatoes are a fruit that eats like a vegetable. Really, who cares? They’re yummy. Eat them.

    • Karen Cesanek | March 22, 2018 at 1:28 am

      What kind of exercises can u do when u have COPD, use oxygen, and have pains in legs , arms, back and ankles, a condition that disables u to walk far with pain.

    • Pat | March 17, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      Excellent information

    • wayne | March 14, 2018 at 6:53 pm

      Tomatoes are a Fruit!!

      • Extra Mile Staff | March 15, 2018 at 2:00 pm

        Wayne – Good catch! The debate over whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable comes from who’s looking at it. Most scientists will say it’s a fruit because of its anatomy. Most chefs will say it’s a vegetable because of its culinary profile. So it’s really dependent on who’s looking at it. Kind of a true Tomato vs Tomahto situation.

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