Secrets of Healthy Aging: Keeping a Routine

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 11 October 2011

Making a pot of coffee. Going for a jog. An apple a day. Whatever your daily routine looks like, the way you begin and subsequently move through your day has an impact not only on the hours ahead, but may also contribute to healthy aging.

After meeting several amazing centenarians, writer Anna Nicholas, a former Guinness Book of Records adjudicator, had forever been seeking “a common thread to their longevity.”  In reviewing their stories, she noticed a pattern: all of these fascinating individuals had distinctive patterns of their own.

Nicholas shares their stories in a recent article (posted in the UK-based Telegraph):

  • Charlotte Hughes , the oldest woman to fly a Concorde, and John Evans, a retired coal miner and at one point the oldest man in Britain, both had regular eating and sleeping habits and engaged/exercised their brains daily.
  • Arthur Cook Merrick, age 92, rides his motorcycle daily and believed that “having a simple but effective daily routine” (for him, it was exercise and keeping up with current events) was the best way to guarantee healthy aging.
  • Crosswords, reading and consistent exercise is what works best for retired school teacher Gerty Land (who, at 90, passed her first driving test).
  • Jeanne Calment from France is 113 and an avid reader and bicycle rider (well, she stopped riding at age 100). She also smoked/drank habitually.
  • Before he died at age 120, Japan’s Shigechiyo Izumi drank barley wine every day and began smoking at age 70.
  • Antoni Mut Pol of Majorca, who recently passed away at 106, worked at a shoe factory for 90 years and daily enjoyed a hearty meal with wine, followed by good coffee.


Indeed it seems a daily routine (even one that includes smoking or the regular consumption of alcohol) is the best anti aging solution out there; being a creature of habit seems to have a tremendously positive effect on aging.

Working, traveling, raising a family, retirement, living with (or caring for someone affected by) Alzheimer’s – all of these life obligations can make following a consistent routine difficult. However, the examples above should be encouraging, as they are fairly simple habits to incorporate into our waking and sleeping, our comings and goings.

If she’s right, the fact that my husband and I rarely sit down for dinner at the same time each evening may be something we need to resolve quickly. But on the flip side, I guess my obsession with writing and rewriting my “to do” lists on a daily basis isn’t such a bad thing after all?

What’s your daily routine? Share it here!

There are 4 Comments about this post

  1. Elizabeth says,

    I think it’s important to have a routine even when you don’t want one–for example, I’ve had this mindset of wanting to keep my weekends completely free so I can squeeze out as much relaxation as I can from my free time, but then I just get bored. So I came to realize I need to have habitual things to do even during my “free” hours.

    My parents are very active. They play in two community bands and are very active in their church, serving on committees and all that. It takes up most of their weeknights and weekends. On the flip side, my aunt and uncle are not involved in anything. From what I gather, their free time consists of TV watching. They also complain about how tired they are, and seem to be pretty unhappy with each other. So it seems clear to me that it’s actually less tiring to be busy.

    That’s why I am making myself get involved in more stuff. I am in a writing group with a bunch of friends that meets every week–that has made a huge difference in my life. I also take a Krav Maga class on Saturdays and am looking into some volunteer work.


    on 14 October 2011 / 11:05 AM

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I’m much the same — if I don’t have enough to do, I’m bored, and if I’m bored, I can’t fully relax. So I totally get it!
    My parents are that way too: involved in their church and busy with their grandsons. They’ve recently become empty nesters and were dreading it so, but I think they’re doing quite well because they’re accustomed to being busy (and their activity level hasn’t changed even though all of us kids are out of the house). So it sounds like you’re doing right by getting involved (plus I love your choice of groups/hobbies)!
    Thanks for sharing your comments, Beth. Appreciate it very much!


    on 14 October 2011 / 1:03 PM

  3. Linda Snyder says,

    :) ))


    on 14 October 2011 / 4:42 PM

  4. Aha! Do you agree, Mom? ;)


    on 14 October 2011 / 4:51 PM


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