100 Ways to Live to 100: Small Steps to a Long Life

As it turns out, your genes have only a 10 percent influence on how long you live. Most experts agree that it’s the choices you make in your life that are the most important factors in your health and longevity.

In the early 1900s, the average life lasted 31 years. Can you imagine? Today, the average lifespan is about triple that. And hey, no one said you have to stop everything and change everything you’re doing. That’s not realistic. The idea is to be mindful and make some little changes. It’s the little things you do every day that make a big impact in the end. It’s all about the baby steps.

So let’s go through the simple things you can start doing today that will literally add years to your life. And remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life. So what are you waiting for?

Laugh More

There was a study done in 2012 that found an optimistic outlook on how to extend the lifespan. It found that a love of laughter can add years onto your life. The 243 centenarians that researchers studied considered laughter to be important part of life.

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There’s a reason they say that laughter is the best medicine. It’s free, it comes naturally, and it works! Whatever it is that makes you laugh, do more of it. Watch more comedies, spend time with kids, and talk to the people that make you laugh!

Look on the Bright Side

Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University found a correlation between optimism and longer lifespans. A positive attitude can be the difference between leaving early and being the last one at the party.

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It may sound abstract to some, but being positive is a lifestyle change. Try to see the silver lining in the storm. And again, it’s about baby steps.

The next tip to live to 100 is quite surprising!

Keep Yourself Up to Date (News-wise)

Too much time spent watching the TV is actually associated with shorter lifespans. But the point here is staying up to date with the media – just not through watching it on the tube.

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Researchers who followed the daily habits of more than 1,100 Italian adults found that people who had the most exposure to media were also the healthiest eaters. And by correlation, healthy eating is strongly linked to staying alive longer.

Practice Yoga

Yes, it can seem as though yoga people are taking over the world with their tight yoga pants and “Namaste” greetings. But listen, there’s something to it. Yoga really is a practice that has tons of benefits.

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Sure, yoga can be relaxing. But there’s more to it than that. It’s been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, help you keep a healthy weight, reduce anxiety, and help you breathe better. All things that create a healthier and longer life.

Next, a fruit worth eating every day!

Eat Grapefruit

Grapefruit is surprisingly more beneficial than people think. For those who are 65 and older, 20% of falls cause a serious injury like a broken bone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The well-known tip is to drink lots of milk to help keep your bones strong and healthy. But apparently grapefruit juice also does the trick, as Texas A&M University researchers claim. Studies show that the juice can improve bone density and slow the rate of bone loss. So whether you like to juice a fresh grapefruit or eat one whole, get that bone-healthy fruit in your body!

Eat Less Meat

Of course, for the carnivores out there, a good piece of steak is something worth craving. But as the wise old adage goes: everything in moderation. And too much of a good thing is a bad thing. So limit those steaks, and all other meats.

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Why? Well, a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that vegetarians have a 12% lower risk of premature death than meat eaters.

Wanna know what major life event (that most people anyway) actually extends the lifespan?

Get Married (and Stay Married)

The Duke University Medical Center conducted the study, baby boomers who were still married were less likely to die early than their single peers. The findings were based on 4,800 people who were born in the 1940s.

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It seems as though getting married is half the battle. It’s staying together that contributed to the longevity of their lives. Necessary divorces aside, staying in the company of a loved one will keep you around longer than those who remain alone.

Cook Your Meals

A study done in 2012 found that people who cook at home up to five times a week were 47% more likely to still be alive 10 years later than those who didn’t. That’s quite a shocking statistic!

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This study was done in 2012, before Uber Eats and all the now easily accessible food delivery services. Today, all the healthy food places have delivery too. But this is referring to the more classic take-out and delivery options that don’t include salmon and salad.

The next tip could help you at the office!

Stand Up

Turns out that sitting is one of the major killers of today. Sedentary lifestyles are not conducive to longevity. So what does that mean for all the office workers, truck drivers, and professionals who sit for most of the day? It means you need to stand more. Period.

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This is the idea behind the standing-desk craze. Apparently, sitting for less than three hours a day could add two years to your life! So whenever you can, stand up. And if you can stand and work for some of your day – even better!

Quit Smoking

Here’s a no-brainer. Research published in the journal “The Lancet” studied 1.3 million people between 1996 and 2001. The study showed that quitting cigarettes helped people live 10 years longer than if they’d continued smoking.

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So for all the smokers out there who keep saying “someday,” that day should be sooner than later. If you want to live longer, that is.

Do you sleep clothed or naked? The next tip might change how you choose to sleep!

Turn Off the TV

Here’s an eye-opening statistic: every hour of TV you watch after the age of 25 cuts your lifespan by about 22 minutes. This is according to research from The University of Queensland, Australia.

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Researchers also found that those who watched TV for an average of six hours a day died about five years earlier than people who didn’t watch any TV at all.

Next – it’s all about nuts!

Eat Nuts

A study published in BioMed Centra revealed that people who eat nuts have a 39% lower risk of early death than people who don’t eat them. Specifically, walnut eaters have a 45% lower risk of dying early.

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Your next trip to the supermarket should include a walk down the nuts aisle and don’t just grab the walnuts. Get all the good nuts with the right kind of fat – almonds, Brazilian nuts, and pecans alike. And you can add them to your smoothies!

Go For Walks

Take advice from Carmelo Flores Laura. He’s a notable centenarian who said that he owes his longevity to regular exercise. “I walk a lot, that’s all,” Flores said.

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Walk every day, even if it’s just for a short stroll. Get it into your daily routine. And here’s a tip: park your car in the farthest part of the parking lot.

The next tip concerns your mouth!

Brush and Floss

Poor oral hygiene is associated with a shortened life expectancy. Your dentist tells you to brush and floss daily for a reason! Not only is brushing something you’re supposed to do at least twice a day, but you’re supposed to brush for at least 30 seconds.

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Maintaining a healthy mouth can lower risks for heart disease, dementia and stroke. So maybe it’s a good idea to invest in a really good electric toothbrush.

Drink Coffee

Drinking coffee has been debated for years as to whether it’s good for you and how much is the right amount to drink. But studies have shown that coffee is not only high in antioxidants…

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A cup of coffee a day has shown to lower the risk for diabetes, liver damage, several cancers and even depression. What’s your favorite kind of coffee?

The next tip is a good excuse to sleep more!

Take Naps

Are you one to take naps? If not, you might want to get on the cat nap bandwagon. A regular short nap dramatically cuts the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, especially among working men.

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A study of 24,000 people over six years found that people who napped occasionally had a 12% lower coronary mortality, while those who napped at least three times a week for at least half an hour had a 37% lower mortality.

Eat Blueberries

Blueberries can actually help fight against Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, more than 5 million Americans are estimated to have the disease. And that number is expected to triple by 2050 if there are no significant medical breakthroughs. There’s a genetic basis to Alzheimer’s, so if the disease runs in your family, it’s important to make changes to your lifestyle to minimize your risk.

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Adding blueberries to your diet can help. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which give them their purple or deep red color. These berries protect cells from damage by changing the way neurons in the brain communicate and reduce the buildup of protein clumps that are most frequently seen in Alzheimer’s. In one study, older adults who drank blueberry juice for 12 weeks scored higher on memory tests than those receiving a placebo.

Eat Broccoli

You might want to add broccoli and similar veggies to your shopping list. A 2011 study found that people who ate cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, tend to live longer lives.

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Researchers suggest the reason may be due to the veggies’ vitamin C and nutrient count.

The next tip to live longer is about personality…

Be Conscientious

Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin wrote in their book “The Longevity Project,” that being conscientious was one of the best predictors of living a long life.

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The authors claim that people who are diligent and responsible are more likely to adopt healthy behaviors, are less prone to disease and may have more successful relationships and careers

Get Your Omega-3s

You’ve probably heard something about Omega-3s and how they’re good for the brain and heart. Well, a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that Omega-3s can help people live longer.

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Their study found that older people with the highest levels of omega-3s in their blood lived 2.2 years longer than those with low omega-3 blood levels. Wondering how to incorporate them into your diet? Fish, as well as some vegetables and seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat Less in General

Okinawa, Japan, has one of the largest concentrations of centenarians (those who live past 100). Why? Dan Buettner, the author of “The Blue Zones: Places on Earth Where More People Live Longer, Healthier Lives” has an idea.

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Buettner believes that the reason is due to restricting calories and not overeating.

The next health tip is a difficult one but will create a huge impact.

Cut Out Sugar

Similar to the direct link between smoking and lung cancer, the link between increased sugar and diabetes risk is up there on the list of absolute medical truths. Don’t listen to what soda manufacturers try to tell you.

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Mayo Clinic researchers have gone on to say that added dietary fructose (either as table sugar or the main component of high-fructose corn syrup) may be the main cause of diabetes. Cutting sugar alone could decrease deaths from the all too common disease.

Live in a City

This may come as a shock (as it did for us), but living in a city can actually add years to your life and not the contrary! Research shows that residents of cities tend to live longer and healthier than their rural counterparts.

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The main thought as to why is because of the higher rates of cigarette use, obesity, and chronic health conditions (like diabetes and hypertension) among those who live in the outskirts of cities.

If you had to guess – would you think that living in high or low altitude adds years to your life? See the answer on the next page!

Change Your Altitude

Here’s a rather unexpected tip for longevity: living in a high altitude part of the world. A 2011 study from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that the 20 areas in the U.S. with the highest life expectancy had an average altitude of 5,967 feet above sea level.

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To be specific, those people lived 1.2 to 3.6 years more on average, lowering the risk of death from heart disease.

Marry Someone Younger

Take Daisy Dunnett’s advice. She’s 100 years old and says she owes her longevity to having a younger husband. “I really think I would be dead if it was not for him,” she says.

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“If you’re elderly and on your own, it’s easy to give up and not feed yourself properly.” Also, living with someone younger has a way of keeping you on your toes.

Next – if you fight with your spouse, it’s best to make up before hitting the hay!

Don’t Go to Bed Angry

We’ve all done it – had a fight with our spouse and literally went to bed angry, letting the thoughts ruminate while trying to doze off. A word of advice: don’t do it.

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In a study from Brigham Young University, researchers found that with 1,700 married adults, the more arguing there was in the relationship, the worse the adults’ health.

If Divorced, Stay Social

The authors of The Longevity Project found that there’s quite a difference between men and women after divorce. They found that women who get divorced, leaving a bad marriage, tend to thrive as much as single and widowed women do.

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“Women were able to rely on other friends, whereas many men depended on their wives for their social networks and so were devastated when they lost these ties,” one of the researchers said.

The next tip is one for the life-long learners!

Keep Learning

A Harvard University study published in 2008 showed how people who stay in school for at least 12 years live longer than those who don’t complete high school.

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To go even further, a 2012 report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found that people who earned a bachelor’s degree lived nine years longer than those who only completed high school.

Eat Tomatoes

Did you know that tomatoes fight against skin cancer? New research has found that the reason melanoma rates are so low in regions like the Mediterranean has to do with the diet. Foods that are high in antioxidants, the deeply colored fruits and vegetables, can help fight against the oxidizing effect of UV rays.

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There was one study published in the British Journal of Dermatology which revealed that participants who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste per day showed 33% more protection against sunburn than a control group. But this doesn’t mean you can replace sunscreen with eating tomatoes. Wear sunscreen!

The next longevity tip is real and not as unattainable as people may think!

Meditate

The sentence “I’ve tried but I just can’t meditate” is said far too many times. Meditation doesn’t have to be something that only gurus and yogis do. You can tailor it to your needs.

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Studies show that meditation helps improve many depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also improves concentration, memory, and reasoning skills.

Eat Sweet Potatoes and Turmeric

Like we mentioned earlier, Okinawa, Japan, has a higher amount of centenarians than any other place on earth. There are 5 times more there than in the US. And their diet is a big factor in the equation.

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About 60% of their diet involves sweet potatoes, which are high in flavonoids, fiber and the good kind of carbs. Turmeric is also a popular spice in Japan. Its antioxidants help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Do you have friends from work? See the next tip.

Make Friends at Work

Researchers from Tel Aviv University studied 820 adults for 20 years and found that individuals with the most social support from coworkers lived the longest.

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On the contrary, people who kept to themselves and didn’t socialize as much were 2.4 times more likely to die during the 20-year period of the study.

Smile More

Sounds simple, but smiling has a way of creating longevity. Even the simple act of smiling releases endorphins that are triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face. Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy, also lowering stress levels.

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In a 2010 study, researchers studied the smile intensity in a series of photos of baseball players from the 1950s. Of the players who died from 2006 to 2009, those who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of 72.9 years. Yet those with the biggest smilers lived seven full years longer!

Next, a lesson can be taken from Popeye!

Eat Spinach

Eat those leafy greens! Spinach is a muscle builder (hence, Popeye) and a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate. They are what help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis.

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The goal is to have 1 cup of fresh spinach or 1/2 cup of cooked spinach per day. Easiest way to add spinach to your diet: smoothies!

Have Some Kids! But Only Two…

Yes, parents like to complain about their lack of sleep and sitting on the border of sanity. But the truth is, being a parent fosters longevity. Becoming a parent can lead to a longer life by decreasing the risk of conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

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But there’s a caveat: according to the study, which was published in the journal Science & Medicine in 2010, the health benefit of having kids is only limited to two children.

Do you eat like the Mediterranean people do? You might want to start…

Eat Mediterranean

It might be a good idea to start looking towards the East when it comes to ways in which to live longer. One thing worth adopting is the Mediterranean diet.

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A 2011 study published in the journal “Age” showed that the chances of living longer went up by 20% when sticking to a Mediterranean diet. The diet is rich in healthy fats (like olive oil), fish, and fresh produce.

Try Fasting

Have you heard of intermittent fasting? It’s when you eat for six days and fast for one. According to a study published in the journal “Rejuvenation Research,” people who practiced intermittent fasting showed an increase in a gene called SIRT 3 after 10 weeks.

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SIRT is a longevity-boosting gene. Intermittent fasting can also be practiced daily where you fast for around 16 hours until your next meal.

Next, a reason to stop taking the escalator!

Take the Stairs

Like we mentioned earlier, sedentary lifestyles contribute to longevity in the opposite manner – meaning, they don’t contribute. Researchers from the University of Geneva discovered that among people with an inactive lifestyle, taking the stairs improved their life big time.

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Just taking the stairs was enough physical activity to burn body fat and lower their blood pressure. And this cut their risk of an early death by 15%. So skip the escalator next time you’re at the mall!

Wash Your Hands

Yes, it’s as simple as making a habit of washing your hands. The simple things we teach little ones at pre-school are the things that end up saving lives down the road.

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A 2005 study cited by the World Health Organization claims that hand-washing could save more lives around the world than vaccines and other medical interventions.

Get your running shoes ready for the next tip!

Run (in Moderation)

In 2012, data from the Copenhagen City Heart study, showed that a moderate jogging habit can add between 5 and 6 years to your life.

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The University of South Carolina found that people who run more than 20 miles a week and run faster than 7 miles per hour, or more than 5 times a week actually lose that longevity enhancement. Thus, the words “in moderation” come into play again.

Get a Pet

Anyone with a pet will attest to this. And now research can back it up. Both cat and dog owners tend to live longer than those who don’t have pets.

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In one study, people who own cats cut their risk for heart attack by about one-third! And there are even certain dog breeds that can actually improve your mental health.

The next tip is no surprise, but take it as a reminder!

Get Enough Sleep!

Recent research has shown that a consistent lack of sleep is a driving force behind ailments like cancer and heart disease. And people aren’t taking the issue of sleep seriously.

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According to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, sleeping less than six hours a night comes with a 10% increase in risk of death. Studies show us that 7 to 9 hours of sleep is optimal. And that’s uninterrupted sleep, by the way.

Dance!

That’s right. Get your dance shoes on and hit the disco, the bar, or your living room! The point is, dance those worries away.

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Research from Queen’s University Belfast shows that people, especially older people, who dance have improved health and happiness because of the social, mental, and physical benefits of dancing itself.

The next tip will show you what you need to eat more of!

Eat More Fiber

Do you eat enough fiber? The dietary guidelines encourage women to eat 25 grams every day and men to eat 38 grams per day. Foods high in fiber include: apples, bananas, strawberries, whole grains, dark colored vegetables, and potatoes.

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A study from the 2011 Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who met the dietary guidelines of fiber had a lower risk of dying over a nine-year period.

Don’t Overdo the Vitamin Supplements

We all get told by health professionals to take our vitamins, right? Especially if we don’t eat a balanced diet every day. But the truth is that too many vitamins can be detrimental.

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Sure, taking vitamins can help prevent deficiencies in vital nutrients. But a study done at the Copenhagen University of 815 clinical trials found that taking supplements had a detrimental effect on lifespan.

Move to Hawaii

We’re not sure why, but Hawaiians live longer than the average person. A 65-year-old Hawaiian will live another 16.2 years, on average.

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Compare that to another 10.6 years in Mississippi, which is the state with the lowest longevity rankings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Eat Yogurt

Yoghurt has had a long life in the history of food. The 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are this: Fermentation produces hundreds of millions of probiotic organisms that serve as reinforcements to the beneficial bacteria in your body.

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What does that mean? It means that yoghurt helps boost your immune system and provides protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic, however, so you need to buy the kind that says “live and active cultures.” And try to eat one cup per day.

Drink Apple Juice

An apple a day, right? A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that drinking two glasses of apple juice every day has its benefits.

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If you drink a couple of glasses of apple juice a day, it will break up of plaques in your brain which can lead to dementia.

Cope with Trauma

Trauma is unfortunately common in many people’s lives. And knowing how to deal with it can extend your life by a lot. A study showed that male Holocaust survivors lived longer than men of the same age who immigrated to Israel before the war.

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The study’s authors wrote that this could be a display “post-traumatic growth,” leading those men to “greater meaning and satisfaction in their later lives.”

Stay tuned for the next 50! …

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