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At 100, they dance, get tattoos, exercise: The amazing centenarians we met in 2022

Let their advice on how to live a long and happy life inspire you for a healthy 2023.
From left to right: Geraldine Karlan, Gloria Weberg and Les Savino. (Courtesy Lawrence Krauss; Don Campbell / The Herald-Palladium via AP; Hanover Area YMCA)
From left to right: Geraldine Karlan, Gloria Weberg and Les Savino. (Courtesy Lawrence Krauss; Don Campbell / The Herald-Palladium via AP; Hanover Area YMCA)
/ Source: TODAY

Your chances of living to 100 seem to be improving all the time.

There are now about 100,000 centenarians residing in the U.S. — more than triple the number in 1980, according to the government’s 2020 Profile of Older Americans.

That makes this age group one of the fastest-growing segments of the population, if not the fastest-growing, the New England Centenarian Study noted.

Anytime a person makes it to the century mark in good health is cause for awe, but TODAY.com met some truly extraordinary 100-year-olds in 2022. Here is some of their longevity advice:

Find time to enjoy ‘all the goodies of life’

After being married five times, Geraldine Karlan was still seeking new love when we caught up with her soon after her 100th birthday party in Toronto, Ontario.

“As long as I stay well, I want to travel, I want to do things, I still want to dance,” she told TODAY.com.

“I like lobster. I like a steak. I like all the goodies of life.”

Her son Lawrence Krauss, who took a photo of Karlan looking glamorous in a silver dress, noted his mother’s affinity for shopping, dressing up and looking good has likely also played a role in helping her live a long life.

Don’t retire

Dr. Howard Tucker, who has been named the world’s oldest practicing doctor by Guinness World Records, considers retirement the enemy of longevity. At 100, the Cleveland, Ohio, neurologist has been working in medicine for 75 years.

“I think that to retire, one can face potential shriveling up and ending in a nursing home. It’s fun staying alive and working… It’s delightful work. Every day I learn something new,” Tucker tells TODAY.com.

“If (people) retire from their work, they should at least do something as a hobby, whether it be communal work or self-hobbies… you need a stimulus for the brain daily.”

Move your body

Exercise is much better than medicine, says 100-year-old Les Savino who drives himself to the gym in Hanover, Pennsylvania, most days of the week for a three-hour workout.

He lifts weights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, using 15 weight machines and doing 45 reps on each per session. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for cardio, including riding on a stationary bike and walking on a treadmill. He’s been doing that routine at the Hanover Area YMCA since 1983.

“It makes me feel good,” Savino says. “Most people at 100 no longer enjoy life. My days are just as normal as when I was 30.”

He lives independently, has a sharp mind and memory, and requires almost no medication because he’s so healthy.

Read novels

Savino reads a lot, enjoying murder mysteries in particular because they’re challenging. In fact, brain experts recommend reading fiction to keep the mind sharp.

Unlike non-fiction, where you can jump around the book in no particular order, you have to remember the characters and the plot lines in a novel for it to make sense. That’s much more of a workout for the brain.

Stay positive

Gloria Weberg of St. Joseph, Michigan, celebrated her 100th birthday by treating herself to a tattoo.

When asked about the secrets of her longevity, Weberg is matter-of-fact.

“Everybody asks me that same question and I really don’t know how to answer it except that I’m a positive person to begin with,” she says. “I’ve always looked at the positive side of things, I’m an optimist, I’m a happy person.”

Tucker and Savino also described themselves as optimists. Indeed, people who were optimistic had greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity,” or living to 85 and beyond, studies have found.

Enjoy alcohol in moderation

Weberg likes to drink a glass of red wine with dinner every evening. Tucker drinks alcohol socially and sometimes has a martini on Friday night. Savino has two martinis every night. “Nothing too extreme,” he says of his alcohol consumption. “I don’t think I’ve ever been drunk in my life.”

That’s in line with research that has found people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol live longer than those who abstain.

But Karlan has always abstained from alcohol. “I saw no reason to drink it,” she said.

Eat everything in moderation

When it comes to diet, the centenarians featured in this article enjoy eating everything in moderation rather than avoiding certain foods. None are vegetarians, though Savino says he’s not much of a meat eater, preferring seafood instead. “A lot of people just gorge themselves on food. I just eat (until) my appetite is satisfied and then I stop,” he says.

If they enjoy sweets, they indulge their sweet tooth, but do it modestly. All have been able to maintain a healthy weight throughout their long lives.

Cultivate happiness

Fill your life with people and activities you love, all these extraordinary centenarians advise.

“You have to be happy in your job and in your domestic life,” Tucker says.

“If you enjoy life, it preserves you. You want to keep on going,” Savino adds.

Weberg has been inspired by a Tibetan proverb that states, “The secret to living well and longer is: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.”