Staying Active and Social Prolongs Life Even After 75

Carol Story, Faith Community Nurse

Exercise is the number-one contributor to longevity.

“It doesn’t take a lot to make a major difference,” says Miriam E. Nelson, PhD., Director of Tufts John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Prevention. “If you look at the health of people along the whole spectrum, from very sedentary to athletes, the fitness graph isn’t a straight line. It turns out that the biggest jump comes at the very bottom of the range. The less active you are now, the more benefit you get from adding even a small amount of exercises to your life.”

So you ask, what can I do right now to prolong my life? Try the following simple changes:

EATING FOR LONGEVITY – simple diet changes

  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Eat less meat and meat products
  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts
  • Choose good oils, like olive oil and butter
  • Eat more fish

MAKE FRIENDS TO INFLUENCE LONGEVITY – Be social, join in the fun!


People older than age 75 who are physically active and join in social activities live an average 5.4 years longer that their less-active peers. Even at age 85 or older, a physically active and social lifestyle is associated with an extra 4 years of longevity. 

  • Maintain a rich social network – associated with living 1.6 years longer
  • Normal weight – 1 year longer than those who were underweight
  • Not smoking – 1 year longer than smokers
  • Non-drinkers - 1.3 years longer than drinkers


“In the US, fewer than 10% of adults meet the guidelines for getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity. So we have a lot of potential to improve!”

  • Get Active – at least 30 minutes of daily moderate physical activity, like brisk walking, 5 x/week
  • Control cholesterol – lower that 200
  • Eat better – see above
  • Manage blood pressure – lower that 120/80
  • Lose-weight – achieve a normal BMI
  • Reduce blood sugar – fasting glucose below 100
  • Stop smoking!