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Woman, 100, who trades stocks online, plays poker shares simple tips for long life

“It’s like a lot of other things — you’ve got to be lucky," Shirley Bernstein says.
/ Source: TODAY

At 100, Shirley Bernstein is a stock-trading, poker-playing force of life.

The great-grandmother lights up when she talks about the stock market: She regularly trades stocks online, follows their ups and downs on CNBC, and reads up on companies and financial trends on her own.

“That’s what keeps me going,” Bernstein, who lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, tells “I watch the market every day. I don’t always trade, but it’s a very important part of my day. … It has made my life very interesting.”

Shirley Bernstein was born on Oct. 1, 1923.
Shirley Bernstein was born on Oct. 1, 1923.Courtesy Judith Goldstein

She does some day trading, but has also held some stocks for a long time. The centenarian has “very high expenses” in assisted living, so investing in the market has allowed her stay where she wants to be, she says.

“It’s like a lot of other things — you’ve got to be lucky," she adds. “I’ve had my losses, but fortunately my gains have been larger.”

The great-grandmother has been trading stocks for about 50 years — half her life. She got started by joining a group of women who formed a stock club, which she describes as a learning process, but “a lot of fun.” Bernstein advises women to get more interested in investing and trading stocks.

Here are more of her tips for a long, healthy life:

Make smart lifestyle choices

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 1, 1923, Bernstein had a family with a track record for longevity. One of her grandfathers lived to be 104, and her parents lived into their 90s.

But her siblings were heavy smokers and didn’t live long.

“I’ve been lucky — I’d never smoked. That was a big thing,” Bernstein says.

She limits her alcohol intake to family gatherings, celebrations or special occasions.

When it comes to moving her body, Bernstein admits doing “very little” regular exercise, but says she did some walking when she was younger.

Bernstein spends time at the beach as a young woman.
Bernstein spends time at the beach as a young woman.Courtesy Judith Goldstein

A recent analysis published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found walking 4,000 steps a day started to reduce the risk of dying from any cause, while walking just 2,337 steps a day reduced the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

It means an extra walk around the block at lunch time or after dinner can really have a big impact, personal trainer Stephanie Mansour says.

Have a positive outlook

“She is very funny,” Judith Goldstein, Bernstein’s daughter, tells about her mom.

“I have had a wonderful sense of humor,” Bernstein agrees, noting she’s an optimist.

She credits having a positive outlook on life for helping her survive a major tragedy — the sudden death of her son in an accident six years ago.

Have fun in life

Bernstein says she loves to gamble and has been playing poker for many years. She currently plays poker about three times a week “with some guys she met at the place she lives,” her daughter says.

When it comes to food, “I love everything. … I eat everything,” Bernstein exclaims. “I love sweets.” That includes eating ice cream, cake and candy.

Bernstein with one of her her great-grandchildren.
Bernstein with one of her her great-grandchildren.Courtesy Judith Goldstein

Find a job you love

“I spent most of my life as a working lady in addition to being married and a mother,” the centenarian says.

During World War II, she worked for the government and later became an office manager for a linen supply company. She didn’t retire until her 70s.

“I loved (working). I did very well,” Bernstein says.

There is some evidence working past 65 can be good for health. A survey of more than 83,000 older adults found being retired was associated with the greatest risk of poor health, even after controlling for smoking status and obesity, according to a study published in Preventing Chronic Disease.

Other research found early retirement was associated with an increased risk of dying, while working longer may be related to "survival benefits."

Surround yourself with family

The centenarian says she's “very lucky” in her family life. She had two children, but lost her son in an accident. She has two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Bernstein was married for 45 years until her husband passed away in the 1990s.

Her daughter is throwing her a 100th birthday party, with family members coming from all over to attend. When a visitor expresses hope that her stocks will go up for her birthday, she enthusiastically endorses the idea.

“That’s a nice wish,” Bernstein says.