9 Centenarian Secrets for a Long and Happy Life

centenarian secrets

As you are aware, time is constantly passing us by. In fact, many would agree that time is passing us by way, way too quickly. Whereas you can’t halt the passage of time, what you can do is take measures to prolong your time on this earth.

Now, whether you’re of the belief that a little of what you love does you good, a lot of what you love does you good, or everything in moderation, there are definitely lifestyle and dietary choices we can make to potentially help us to extend our time on this earth.

The truth is that there is no clear way of living to 100 or beyond. We all make different choices, we all have different circumstances, and nothing in life is certain, except for death and taxes of course.

With that said, you can take certain measures and steps to increase your chances of seeing 100, if not more in fact. Here’s a look at a few secrets from centenarians themselves, which may increase your chances of seeing 100.

Disclaimer – Before we go any further, we first need to make something clear. This article is not a medical or scientific article. It is intended for entertainment purposes, and many of the tips shared below have come directly from centenarians who have made it to 100 or beyond. Therefore, we must stress that some of the tips listed below should not be taken too literally.

Centenarian Secrets

Adopt a positive mental attitude

The first tip on our list comes from many centenarians, and for good reason. Now, growing old is no walk in the park. Many people experience aches and pains, a lack of mobility, and many other ailments that can hinder their quality of life.

The sad reality is that some elderly people, unfortunately, give up on life as their bodies begin to deteriorate and they resign themselves to the fact that they’re coming to the end of their lives. We’re all heading that way, and if you think that way, you can’t live in the present or look to the future.

People that simply refuse to leave the house, socialize, and move out of their seats are resigning themselves to the inevitable. But the inevitable could still be decades away. Instead of focussing on your aches and pains, and on the fact that you’re now past your prime, why not adopt a positive mental attitude and count your blessings? Focus on the things you enjoy, and make time to do more of these things.

READ ALSO: Best Exercises for Women Over 40

Vodka Martinis

Okay, as we mentioned, this is not a scientific or medical article, and it should not be taken too literally. Andy Medema, who hailed from Illinois, lived to the impressive age of 101. What was his secret? Well, according to Andy, the key to longevity was vodka.

Specifically, a vodka martini a day. Only one drink, though, as moderation is important. Andy said that he’d enjoy a vodka martini each night and that he believed that that beverage, coupled with NOT smoking, and a lifetime of hard work, helped him to live for so long. Besides, if it’s good enough for Andy and James Bond, it’s certainly good enough for us.

Hard work

Speaking of hard work, our next tip comes to you from Ruby Duncan. Ruby lived to 104 and hailed from Ohio. According to Ruby, she believed that one of the secrets to longevity was hard work. When you think about it, both Ruby and Andy, had a point. Ruby worked hard for virtually all of her life.

Centenarian Secrets - Ruby Dunkan
Ruby Duncan.
Image credit: indeonline.com

She grew up on a farm and would get physically involved every single day. She grew up on a chicken farm and looking after over 1000 chickens certainly required a lot of work. Hard work is great for the mind, and if it is physical labor, it’s great for the body.

Working hard will keep your brain sharp, it will keep boredom at bay, and it will help you to burn calories, manage your weight, and strengthen your heart and major organs. Who do you think would likely live longer? Somebody that sat on their backside all day, every day, doing nothing, or somebody that worked hard for countless hours each week?

Smaller portions

We understand that a healthy diet is important, and we’ll be looking at that a little later on. For now, though, we’d instead like to look at portion sizes.

Nowadays there is all manner of fad diets designed to promote weight loss, yet decades ago, in the 1940s and 50s for example, waistlines were much smaller. When spoken to about diets and portion sizes, many centenarians were critical of the larger portions that have become the norm in modern society.

Lillian Cox, for example, lived to 107, despite admitting to becoming ‘quite heavy’ when in her 50s. She mentioned how she was able to trim off the pounds by simply cutting back on the amount of food that she ate, and by following smaller portions.

Centenarian Secrets - Lilian Cox
Lilian Cox lived from 1907 to 2018. Image source: https://gerontology.wikia.org/wiki/Lillian_Cox

Put simply, many people that have lived to 100 or more, believe that portion sizes nowadays are too big and that we should cut back. When you stop and think about it, they probably had a point.


This should come as no real surprise to learn, but exercise is indeed considered hugely beneficial when it comes to leading a healthy and prolonged life. Exercise promotes all manner of health benefits, that truthfully would take us forever to list each one.

According to 101 Louise Caulder, though, exercise was one of her keys to living past 100. Louise said that she would not leave her bedroom before performing at least 30 minutes of gentle exercise in the form of stretching. She would also walk a mile per day on average, and play bridge 3 times per week to help exercise her brain as well as just her body. Just because you are elderly is no reason not to exercise.

There are even the Senior Games, which is like an elderly version of the Olympics, that regularly sees contestants taking part, despite being in their 80s, 90s, and even 100s.

Lead a healthy lifestyle

There is a lot to be said for clean living, and it turns out that clean living and leading a healthy lifestyle could be one of the secrets to longevity.

101 years old, Harry Adler for example, stated that he believed that one of the reasons why he was able to live past 100, was because he lived a clean and healthy lifestyle. He stated he stayed out of trouble, which would obviously provide significant stress and mental health benefits.

What’s more, the vast majority of people that live to 100 or more, have never smoked. Those that did smoke stopped earlier on in life. Many others also never binge drank, and would instead either not drink alcohol at all, or they’d simply enjoy one or two drinks in moderation.

READ ALSO: Drinking Wine is more important than exercise if you want to live pass 90

Drink tea

No prizes for guessing where the next centenarian on our list comes from. Yep, Margaret Young, and yes, that really is her name, hails from England. The same England that is synonymous with cups of tea. Margaret recently turned 108 years young, and she claims that one of her secrets to longevity is to drink plenty of tea. She could actually be onto something.

Centenarian Secrets
Margaret Young celebrates her 108th birthday
image source: https://www.chad.co.uk/news/sutton-woman-celebrates-108-years-of-life-1-9409662

For the real health benefits, though, we recommend drinking cups of green tea, as it is loaded full of antioxidants in the form of catechins. The most prominent is EGCG, or Epigallocatechin gallate, which is a very powerful antioxidant believed by health experts to provide powerful anti-cancer benefits.

The antioxidants and nutrients in tea help to strengthen the immune system and keep your cells strong and healthy, which in turn may help to promote longevity. So, put down the sugary soft drinks and drink a delicious cup of tea instead.

Healthy diet

A healthy diet is another critical component of any healthy living regime. We don’t have this tip from just one person. Instead, we’re heading over to Okinawa, Japan. Here, it is not uncommon for people to easily live to 100. Experts believe that it is the diet here that plays such a vital role in the indigenous people’s life expectancies.

The diet consists of a lot of fish, relatively low amounts of calories, plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and moderate amounts of fats. The fats that are consumed are all-natural and largely come from oily fish, nuts, seeds, and foods such as avocado.

If you want a rough ratio of macros, 85% of calls come from carbs, 9% from protein, and 6% from healthy fats. In truth, any diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, healthy fats, and other nutrients, whilst being all-natural and free from anything processed or artificial, is going to be beneficial and could potentially increase your chances of living to 100 or beyond.

Don’t skip breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so don’t skip it. This is the advice given by 110-year old Erna Sahn, who never skipped meals, especially breakfast. Erna also stated that she would snack on bananas and dark chocolate and that she would often shovel snow (being from Minnesota) during the winter for exercise.

Bottom Line

Do you have family members that are centenarians – or at least closing to be 100 years old? If yes, what are their centenarian secrets? Ask them, and share them with us via the comments system below.

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