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Live to 99: Taking Inspiration From Betty White

By Sara Butler

Betty White

I was devastated, as many people were, to learn that Betty White passed away at the age of 99 last week. Through my sadness of losing such an amazing lady full of wit, humor, and grace, I found myself thinking that living to 99 is something you simply cannot be sad about. What a life!

This got me considering something: How can I live to be 99 or maybe even 100? If I was healthy and together like Betty seemed to be, then I’ll happily take 100 amazing years on this planet. It’s possible that Betty lived as long as she did through the sheer force of her wit, but I’m sure other factors contributed. It could have been genes, it could have been her daily habits, but I found myself wanting to know more about how to live to 100. Here are some tips that may be able to help you reach Betty White status and live a long, healthy life.

The Century Club: What Are Your Chances?

The good news is that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are generally living longer. The number of people aged 100 or older increased over 40 percent in the span of 14 years from 2000 to 2014. The news also gets better since the CDC maintains that living that long is only about 20 percent genes and about 80 percent lifestyle choices. So, making healthy choices does have an impact on how long you can live. That’s reassuring.

Healthy Habits to Help You Reach 100

So, what can you do to help you level up to 100? You can try a few of these simple lifestyle changes.

Replace red meat - No one is saying you have to give up meat to live to 100, so don’t worry. What experts are saying is that swapping out a few pieces of red meat each week for a high-quality source of plant protein such as legumes or soy can help to reduce your blood cholesterol levels and keep your heart healthy. If you can reduce your chances of developing heart disease, then you can increase your chances of living a long life.

Eat your fruit and veg - Your mother was not playing around when she told you to finish your vegetables or eat a piece of fruit, she was just trying to help keep you alive. Studies have found that people who don’t get enough fruit and vegetables in their diet are more likely to experience premature death. If you want to live to 100, then an apple a day (or the recommended two servings of fruit) truly may keep the doctor away.

Give yourself purpose - What may have kept Betty White in the game all these years as she continued to perform in movies and on television was her drive. Research has shown that continuing to stimulate yourself by doing something you love in your retirement years can help to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. While you may be able to give up your 9 to 5, you should replace it with a hobby to help keep you motivated and tack a few extra years onto your life.

Manage stress - Stress is something that simply cannot be avoided in life. If you can learn to manage it, then you can increase the chances of making it to the 100-year mark in your life. Too much stress increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, so adding various ways to relax and de-stress is a must. Meditation, breathing exercises, and even laughter are great stress relievers. My guess is laughter is what got Betty, in part, to the ripe old age of 99.

Move more - You’ve likely heard that sitting is the new smoking -- and that saying is not misleading. Smoking is bad for you and can shorten your lifespan dramatically, as can sitting too much. The secret to a longer life is in keeping your body moving. You don’t have to complete an Ironman competition either, just making sure to keep tabs on how much you are sitting and combating it with more movement in your day can make a huge difference.

Get a pet (or two, or three) - It’s no secret that Betty White loved animals, which may have added to her longevity. Studies have found that pets, specifically dogs, have a positive impact on the things that contribute to living longer -- things such as helping to keep stress in check, connecting pet owners to others through a shared love of animals, and helping to keep your heart healthy.

The loss of Betty White is a sad thing for the world and one final gut punch that 2021 gave us, but there’s a lot to celebrate about Betty too. She was a pioneer in many ways, and she lived a long life that provided happiness to many people. The best thing we can do to keep her memory alive is to stay healthy and happy -- and maybe remember that we don’t have to be so serious all the time.

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