How to live longer: Centenarians share one key tip to extend your longevity

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Dr Valter Longo is the director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, where he has asked questions to find out the secrets of people who reach triple digits. “In Calabria [Italy], 110-year-old Salvatore Caruso told me how he walked every day,” began Sr Longo. Caruso would make his way to the olive grove, where he laboured over the plants to ensure they were strong and healthy.

“In Okinawa [Japan], I heard stories of fishermen who never retire,” continued Dr Longo.

Dr Longo referenced the research conducted by the explorer Dan Buettner.

Buettner discovered the five places in the world where people live the longest, happiest lives, which he dubbed the Blue Zone.

“When Dan Buettner asked very long-lived Costa Ricans to share the secret to their longevity, they said they enjoyed doing physical work all their lives,” noted Dr Longo.

Physical activity is clearly a key factor in living beyond older age.

But what is the best type of activity to do? “The one you enjoy most,” replied Dr Longo.

The most important aspect of exercise is that it can be incorporated into your daily schedule.

It’s the type of activity that “you can keep doing up to your hundredth birthday and beyond”.

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Dr Longo stated that many Okinawans practice martial arts – especially a dance-inspired version of tai chi.

“The type of exercise you choose isn’t important,” emphasised Dr Longo.

“What’s important is working all your body parts with rigour – meaning to the point of breathing rapidly or sweating – for five to 10 hours a week.”

However, this doesn’t mean that you should start running weekly marathons or compete for Olympic swimming.

“It’s important to exercise, but not to overexercise because knees, hips, and joints will eventually get damaged,” warned Dr Longo.

This is especially true if you decide to keep on exercising when you feel pain.

Dr Longo collated the anecdotes shared by the centenarians to produce recommendations on how to extend your longevity.

“Walk fast for an hour every day,” recommended Dr Lago, which he says “can easily be achieved”.

Another tip is to “ride, run, or swim thirty to forty minutes every other day, plus two hours on the weekend”.

“When you can, ride outside; when you can’t, use the exercise bike in high gear,” said Dr Lagos.

“After 10 minutes, you should be sweating,” he added. “Every muscle of the body needs to be used frequently.

“Muscles grow and maintain or gain strength only in response to being challenged.”

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