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10 Centenarians Share Their Secrets to Long Life

Curious what it takes to live past 100? Here’s advice from people who have done it. 

Centenarians—people older than 100—are a rare, but growing population. In 2010, the United States census estimated there were 53,364 centenarians living in the country, a number projected to more than 400,000 by 2050. They give credit for their health to everything from stretches and playing bridge to ballroom dancing. Here are some of their best tips: 


Two woman laughing over coffee

1 of 10 Do Something Interesting Every Day

Lili Rudin lived to be 103 and loved to travel. 

“I go out every day and mingle: I go shopping and take exercise classes,” Rudin told Real Simple“Plus, I see members of my family almost every single day. I remain very curious about life, and if something new happens, I want to be involved in it.”

Cup of tea

2 of 10 Drink Tea

“Be happy and have plenty of cups of tea!” Margaret Young advised at her 108th birthday party, which was, appropriately, a tea party. 

Hands clasped across a table

3 of 10 Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

When asked what her secret to longevity was, this 107-year-old said “forget about it!” 

“Don’t worry about the little things if you can’t do anything about it, forget it,” she told Fox.

Man and woman dancing

4 of 10 Dance!

John Grumbine took up ballroom dance lessons in his 80s—and continued past his 100th birthday. 

“The key to my longevity is dancing,” Grumbine told PennLive. “It keeps me mentally, physically and spiritually active.”


5 of 10 Eat Regularly 

On her 110th birthday, Erna Zahn officially became a supercentenarian—someone 110 or older. Her secret?

“I don’t skip meals,” she said. “Eat breakfast. It’s what keeps me going.” 

Two woman on computer

6 of 10 Stay Young at Heart

For the book Celebrate 100: Centenarian Secrets to Success in Business and LifeLynn Peters Adler and Steve Franklin interviewed more than 500 centenarians. Here’s what Marvin Kneudson, 101, had to say: 

“The trick is not to act your age. I use a smartphone and I keep in touch with my grandsons on Skype.”

Woman on monkey bars

7 of 10 "Move It or Lose It" 

Another woman Adler and Franklin interviewed for their book was Louise Caulder, who stuck to a rigid routine of physical and mental activity. 

“I don’t leave my bedroom before doing 30 minutes of stretches,” Caulder said. “Later, I walk a mile. Three times a week I play bridge. You’ve got to exercise your mind as well as your body — everyone knows that, but I wonder how many are actually doing it.” 

Woman volunteering

8 of 10 Follow the Golden Rule 

Gertrude Weaver lived to 116. She believed how you treat other people could have a big impact on your life. 

She told TIME, shortly before passing away, that her advice was to: “Treat people right and be nice to other people the way you want them to be nice to you.”

Man and woman walking on the beach

9 of 10 Take a Walk!

World War II veteran George Boggess lived to 104 and believed staying active was the reason. 

“I attribute my longevity to a great extent to walking, not being in the back of the car strapped down,” Boggess told Washington’s Top News.


Hands clutching a bible and rosary

10 of 10 Have Faith

Susannah Mushatt Jones was the oldest person in the world when she passed away in 2016 at the age of 116. 

She told Time magazine she didn’t have a secret for longevity before adding, “Believe in the Lord.” 

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