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The Secrets to Longevity

Irving BensonIf you were around during the rise of the vaudeville era of entertainment, you might remember the variety show villain and heckler known as Sidney Spritzer. He'd appear unannounced on the balcony of a theater during a live show and heckle the host about the poor talent, acting, and original script of the show, much to the delight of the audience.

Sydney Spritzer, played by Irving Benson, went on to be a favorite guest on The Tonight Show, hosted by the late Johnny Carson. Benson is considered one of the great clowns of American television, and was even featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Why all the fanfare for an actor from days gone by? Benson is 101 and still enjoys a good laugh.

Want to live a long, happy, and healthy life like Benson? There are a few things you should know. In fact, a recent study published by UnitedHealthcare identified six key tips to achieving centenarian status.

1. Keep learning.
Instead of shying away from technology, embrace it. It might be foreign to you or seem difficult to learn, but give it a try and keep learning. In the study, the healthiest centenarians reported using a smart phone, watching videos on YouTube, and still curious about how the world works.

2. Stay in touch.
Time and distance may separate you from family and friends, but that doesn't have to keep you from staying in touch. In fact, 82 percent of 100-year-olds said they talk to a family member or friend every day. Being involved in social groups and organizations can also help you live longer.

3. Practice healthy habits
The top three healthy habits of centenarians include eating healthy foods, getting adequate rest, and exercising regularly. Build your meal plan with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy or soy products. If you're wondering what to make for dinner, check out the Senior Special Diet Meals by MagicKitchen.com. Aim for eight hours of sleep per night, take a mid-day nap if you don't get enough sleep at night. And include exercise in your daily schedule like walking, gardening, or hiking.

4. Enjoy routines.
Read the newspaper. Complete a crossword. Take a walk at the same time every day. Get together with friends once a week. Enjoy a good laugh. Meditate. Research shows that establishing and maintaining routines helps provide balance and perspective that promotes longevity.

5. Be a volunteer.
Just because you're older that most people, doesn't mean you can't make a difference. In fact, your life experiences can be a valuable asset that can help motivate, inspire and teach others. Find a way to share your talents and interests to make a difference and volunteer. In the study, 90 percent of centenarians said volunteering helps them as much as it helps others.

6. Be grateful.
Take time every day to be grateful for your life, experiences, and circumstances. Look for the good in things. In the study, about 80 percent of the centenarians surveyed said they were happy with the way their life turned out.