STORY SO FAR: top-rated ways to live to 100

Twenty entries in to our ‘101 ways to live to 100′ and already one or two trends are emerging. Alcohol and religion both turn up in quite a few of our centenarians’ secrets to longevity, as does chocolate. So far, no one has mentioned genetics (though a few have mentioned ‘family’). And our surprise leader is mountaineering.

Our league table below is surely the only time these words have ever appeared in a list together:

9/10: Mountaineering
8/10: A loving family; Be happy and enjoy life;
7/10: A good doctor; praising God
6/10: One meal a day; sleep; hard work
5/10: ChocolateMonogamy; Guinness; Yoga; a lot of booze
4/10: Two raw eggs;
3/10: Work less overtime;
2/10: Bacon
1/10: Water from a wishing well
0/10: Pearls
No score: Good food; stem cells

Back soon with: Does a sense of humour help you live longer?

Secret no.9 Hard work

You’ve got to like Vera Walsh. Asked what it felt like to be 100 she responded: ‘The same as it did to be 99’. Next question please.

A similar pragmatism is expressed in her ‘secret’ of living a long time: ‘Hard work and having fun. Lots of times you have to make your own fun – that’s the way to go’.

We have plenty of examples of Vera’s hard work – her jobs included long spells in retail – and also of having fun: she was an avid sportsman, taking part in track and field, curling and bowls. ‘I was always involved in sports and I’d advise people to do that and to coach and keep an eye on those people who are learning’.

Vera hit 100 on June 20th in Edson, Canada. She has a little extra advice for would-be centenarians: ‘Be happy. Laugh and the world laughs with you – cry and you cry alone’.

Plausibility rating: 6 out of 10. A famous Stanford Longevity study found that those who were most committed and involved in their jobs lived longer. But a caution here (and the clue is in the title of the study): it followed 1,500 bright, middle-class American kids who tended to go on to be lawyers, doctors and, yes, university professors. Low paid, dull, repetitive or dangerous (self-evidently) work, might not have the same effect. We’ll explore that in more detail later.