Want to Live to 100? Eight Great Habits for a Long, Happy Life

July 1, 2017
Senior couple relaxing by the sea on sunny day
Who wouldn’t want to live to be 100? Maybe you’d get your face on a virtual jam jar, courtesy of the Today Show and Smucker’s? And you’d probably be treated to one of the best birthday parties of your life.

How do you become a member of the 100-and-over club? Studies suggest that only around a quarter of it comes down to genetics, which means that the other 75 percent is up to you. And, more to the point, your health habits.

8 Great Long-Life Habits:

  1. Learn to love veggies (and grains and fish).

    The largest concentration of people 100 years and older is in Okinawa, Japan, where the diet consists largely of vegetables, grains, and fish. Beans—including fava, black, soy, and lentils—are also staples in places where people live longer, while eggs, meat, and dairy are eaten much more sparingly. And healthy can be delicious. Check out these ideas for starters.

  2. Say no to soda (even diet).

    We know this is a tough one for some, but take heart: You’re okay to drink moderate amounts of alcohol and coffee (depending on your individual tolerance). They may even have some health benefits. What’s the healthiest thing to drink? Water. Your body needs it, so think of it the way you would a nutrient.

  3. Make a habit of moving.

    Regular exercise is great, but the truly long-lived aren’t necessarily great athletes. They’re simply more likely to be found on the go. If you want to live to see your century year, try every day to get up, stay on your feet, and keep moving. Fitness experts call it natural movement, and you can learn it by watching a child (or trying to keep up with one). And spend time outside; as animals, we’re built to go off-road once in a while.

  4. Manage stress.

    Your average hundred-year-old may not remember the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” but they would recognize the advice. We all experience stress in life. The trick is to build a routine that helps you manage it. Go for walks, take naps, pray, meditate, or keep a gratitude journal. And here are 10 more ideas, in case you still need mellowing out.


  1. Tease your brain.

    Puzzles, trivia, and logic or math games are all great ways to give your brain a workout, and mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness when it comes to long life. Playing a musical instrument and learning new knowledge or skills are also beneficial.

  2. Stay connected.

    Along with mental, physical, and emotional health, long-living people tend to have great social and spiritual connections as well. Being part of a club, church, or neighborhood improves your mood and helps you stay balanced, and in-the-moment. And keeping ties with family and friends means someone always has your back.

  3. Floss. 

    It might not sound like much, but flossing regularly has been shown to prevent both heart and gum disease, and preventing the two of these can add years to your life expectancy.

  4. Treat yourself.

    In the quest for great health, don’t make yourself miserable. The occasional treat can be a big boost to your overall sense of wellbeing, even if that means having the occasional cupcake. But treats don’t have to involve big calories: massages, weekend getaways, or splurging on a concert or show are all great ways to nurture yourself through indulgence.

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