Betty White recently turned the big, and incredible, 99 this past Sunday, leaving many fans wondering what the secret is to her long and healthy life and career.
“I don’t have a secret,” she once revealed to Parade in a 2018 interview. Nonetheless, White is well aware of how lucky she is to be turning 99 – especially during a pandemic,
“I am blessed with good health,” she told People Magazine last Wednesday, “so turning 99 is no different than turning 98.” As for her birthday plans? Considering that we are in the midst of the second-wave, White plans on keeping things low-key,
“What am I doing for my birthday? Running a mile each morning has been curtailed by COVID, so I am working on getting The Pet Set re-released, and feeding the two ducks who come to visit me every day,” she told Entertainment Tonight. She later revealed that once it’s safe to do so again, she’s looking forward to “visiting with close friends and bringing food to my animal friends.”
Betty White’s Secrets To Longevity
Now, while Ms. White may believe that she doesn’t have any secrets, there are a few things we can learn from her if we want to age as effortless and healthy.
1. Find your purpose
Blue Zones are five areas around the world that are inhabited by residents whose life expectancies reach 100 and beyond. One of the principles associated with Blue Zone is maintaining a sense of purpose.
Known as ikigai in Okinawa or plan de vida in Nicoya, having a sense of purpose in life has been found to be beneficial for one’s health.
In fact, a study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that a sense of purpose in life is associated with better physical and mental well-being.
What’s more, White has admitted that finding her passion and maintaining an almost 90 year-career has been a crucial part of her long and productive life. She encourages others to find their passions and to run with them.
“It’s not hard to find things you’re interested in,” White told Katie Couric in a 2017 interview, “Enjoy them. Indulge them. And I think that keeps you on your toes.“
2. Live in the moment
If there’s one thing that we can take from 2020, it’s that we need to appreciate every moment that comes our way, and that’s something that Betty White also agrees on, as she once told Parade magazine, “I don’t think about things I might have missed out on.“
Additionally, during the Katie Couric interview, White also dished out advice about dealing with grief, telling the host, “You don’t look ahead, and you try not to look back.”
3. Laughter is the best medicine
White has starred in a string of comedies throughout her long career and this may be the secret to her longevity. Speaking to People, the actress revealed that it was a sense of humor that kept her going.
“Don’t take yourself too seriously. You can lie to others — not that I would — but you cannot lie to yourself.”
Betty White/ Instagram
4. Stay positive
This can be hard to do in the midst of a global pandemic, but it could be exactly what you need to boost your health.
“I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside,” she told Parade in 2018, “I get bored with people who complain about this or that. It’s such a waste of time.” White advises you to “accentuate the positive, not the negative. It sounds so trite, but a lot of people will pick out something to complain about, rather than say, ‘Hey, that was great!’ It’s not hard to find great stuff if you look.”
Staying positive won’t only improve your outlook on life, but it could also help you reach your 99th birthday. According to a study published in PNAS, optimism contributes to an 11 to 15 percent longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of ‘exceptional longevity’, or living to the age of 85 or beyond.
5. Exercise your brain
White revealed to Couric that she enjoys exercising her brain crossword puzzles as they help to keep her mind sharp,
“I’m addicted. An admitted addict. I just can’t put ’em down.” she shared. Whether it be crossword puzzles or jigsaw puzzles, using these brain games can help to keep your mind sharp, and it may even reduce the risk for neurodegenerative disorders like dementia.
Betty White/ Instagram
6. She’s an animal lover
Not only is White a trustee of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, but she also has a book, Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, where she shares stories about her best animal friends. According to the CDC, having a close relationship to animals, which includes having pets, can help to improve your heart health,
It can even reduce feelings of loneliness – which has become an area of concern due to COVID-19 restrictions.
7. Keep moving
According to White, her parents, who both died in the early 80s, were both active well into their last years. In regards to how she keeps fit, the actress revealed that “I have a two-story house and a bad memory, so I’m up and down those stairs all the time. That’s my exercise.”
If you’re worried about maintaining an active lifestyle, especially in the midst of the pandemic, there are a few ways you can keep active in your home.
Betty White/ Instagram
8. Treat yourself
There’s no point in living a long life if you’re going to spend it depriving yourself. According to White, she always remembers to treat herself, and one of her favorite cravings to give in to is vodka and hot dogs (she’s 99, so clearly it’s working for her).
Now while we wouldn’t recommend indulging in something so processed, you shouldn’t shy away from giving in to your cravings now and then. Just remember everything in moderation.
Betty White/ Instagram
Want to know more?
Now while she’s nowhere close to 99, it’s easy to see that Mary J. Blige has this aging-well thing down well. The Grammy-award winner recently turned 50 as she celebrated the occasion by posting a bikini-picture to her Instagram profile, leaving her fans to wonder just how she ages so well.
Aftab, A., Lee, E. E., Klaus, F., Daly, R., et al. (2019). Meaning in Life and Its Relationship With Physical, Mental, and Cognitive Functioning: A Study of 1,042 Community-Dwelling Adults Across the Lifespan. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 81(1), 19m13064. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.19m13064
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Lee, L. O., James, P., Zevon, E. S., Kim, E. S., et al. (2019). Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(37), 18357–18362. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1900712116
Savage, B. M., Lujan, H. L., Thipparthi, R. R., & DiCarlo, S. E. (2017). Humor, laughter, learning, and health! A brief review. Advances in physiology education, 41(3), 341–347. https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00030.2017