4 healthy habits 90-year-olds want you to know

“The best of your life is behind you.”

“There’s nothing to look forward to.”

“You’re just waiting out death.”

These are the discouraging thoughts a lot of people think as they get older. But if any of these thoughts have crossed your mind, I want to challenge you to think about the second half of your life in a new way.

It’s entirely possible to live until your 90s and beyond, and stay healthy doing it. That means when you hit middle age (the time when those disturbing thoughts start creeping in), you’re still a youngster. You still have decades left to have fun, accomplish your life goals and make a positive impact on the world.

But you have to do the work. Make healthy choices now, and your aging forecast looks a lot more optimistic.

So what specifically can you do to make your second act your best act?

Well, a recent study from the University of California identified four habits that can increase your odds of blowing out 90 candles on your birthday cake one day. And #3 is really surprising!

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Healthy secrets of nonagenarians

Since 2003, University of California neurologist Claudia Kawas has tracked the habits of 1,700 nonagenarians (people who make it past the 90 year mark). Here are the four habits she found improved their longevity:

#1 Drinking coffee

People who drank two cups of coffee per day were 10 percent more likely to reach their 90th birthday. That’s not too surprising, since previous studies show that your coffee habit decreases your risk of premature death. It also decreases your risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment.

#2 Exercising

Exercise is like a magic elixir of health and longevity. Research shows it actually keeps you younger on the cellular level. In this study, exercising for 15 to 45 minutes per day increased the odds of living to 90 by 11 percent.

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#3 Drinking alcohol

Now, here’s the longevity-boosting habit that’s really going to shock you. It certainly surprised me. I’ve written a lot about how bad alcohol is for you—like how it shortens your telomeres, increases your risk for atrial fibrillation and contributes to at least seven different kinds of cancer. But moderate alcohol consumption may have some benefits. I recently wrote about how moderate alcohol consumption can help your brain clear away waste. And this longevity study shows that drinking two alcoholic beverages per day increases your chance of living to 90 by 18 percent too. “I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Austin, Texas.

#4 Spending time on hobbies

People who stay active and productive age better than people who don’t. That may be why people who practice hobbies were far more likely to live to 90. Kawas found that people who practiced a hobby for two hours per day were 21 percent more likely to live to 90. So dig out those knitting needles, bird-watching binoculars, fishing poles, paint brushes or whatever other hobby paraphernalia you have lying around the house. You’ll need it to make your next years your best years.

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Other tips for longevity

Hopefully, these four tips have you feeling inspired and excited about what’s possible for the second half of your life. You can also try other longevity hacks, like intermittent fasting, eating healthy fats, and having plenty of sex and fresh rosemary, just like the 100-year old residents of the Italian village of Acciaroli. To your health and longevity!


  1. Drinking alcohol key to living past 90, study says — MedicalXpress. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.