The No.1 driver in longevity isn't how heavy you are. It’s how fit you are. You’re better off being fat—and a little fit—than being skinny and out of shape. When researchers looked around the world at people who live to 100, in places like Sardinia, Okinawa, and Costa Rica, they found that centenarians had three things in common. First, they were physically fit. Second, they ate whole foods. Real foods. And third was their social structure, their relationships. I met a lot of great friends while playing water polo and football at Harvard. It was a different level of intensity, and I learned much about competition—but now we are on a different playing field.
When I speak with teammates, I hear their biggest fear about aging is getting Alzheimer’s. The best way to avoid memory loss is to build new neuron bridges in the brain. And you can’t build those just by doing crossword puzzles. What really challenges you is coordinated physical activity. My thrill in life is basketball. I still play basketball on Saturday mornings with a bunch of my pals. But you can play any competitive sport you want. Going out and competing is healthy for your brain, and it’s also something you can look forward to doing with your friends.
Speaking of friends, if the people in your life are getting out of shape and gaining weight, you will too. If the people in your life are getting fi t and losing weight, you will too. So either change your friends or change what your friends are doing. It’s up to you. That’s your manly duty. So, how do you stay fit at any age? Let’s go through the different decades.