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At 102 years old, I still help run my business: Here are my 3 daily practices for a happy and healthy life

At 102 years old, I still help run my business: Here are my 3 daily practices for a happy and healthy life

Deborah Szekely recently hit a huge milestone: she turned 102 years old this month.

And not only is Szekely often out and about visiting friends and speaking at conferences, but she also works three times a week at the fitness resort and spa that she co-founded in 1940.

“When I woke up the morning I turned 100, I couldn’t find anything that was different so I kept on doing the [same] thing,” she tells CNBC Make It.

“It’s not a thing you do. It’s a part of life, it’s something you automatically know I’ve got to do that. It’s not an option.”

Here are three daily practices Szekely swears by and credits for her longevity.

3 daily habits this 102-year-old does to stay happy and healthy

1. Move daily

“I’ve always tried to walk a mile a day, and we count footsteps so we know when it is,” Szekely says.

“I can’t take a nap in the afternoon unless I’ve got my steps in. It’s not anything that is rigid, it just is something you do. Just like waking up in the morning.”

Her advice for making daily movement easier to achieve is “find friends who are active.”

“I’m Jewish, and I have a [friend who is a] Catholic nun who loves to walk. And so we walk,” Szekely says. “She appears and out [we] go.”

Szekely’s exercise habits are less vigorous than they used to be when she was younger, but still effective, she explains. Moving naturally through low-intensity physical activity like walking is a practice that the world’s longest-living people do often.

When Szekely lived in Tahiti with her family, she would bike to school, and back home for lunch. She also practiced Pilates regularly as an adult, and owning a fitness resort helped when it came to prioritizing exercise.

2. Eat a pescatarian diet

Szekely has followed a mostly plant-based diet since she was a child. “I’m a pescatarian. And I actually have been fortunate of never eating meat because of my parents,” she says.

Her eating habits align closely with the Mediterranean diet which prioritizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and more.

Here’s what a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner looks like for Szekely:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt, a banana and whole grains
  • Lunch: “I always have a salad,” at home, she says. But when she has lunch at restaurants, she likes to try different things, she adds.
  • Dinner: “I go out a lot,” she says, so she chooses from fish, salad, a baked potato or tries something new.

In the early stages of Szekely’s fitness resort and spa, she was the chief cook and would manage the farm. Her diet consisted of fresh foods that she incorporated in the meals she served there.

3. Socialize and always ‘be learning’

Szekely’s social calendar is pretty stacked.

“I have season tickets for every play that the [Old Globe Theatre] has in San Diego,” she says. “I go to the theater a lot, and I love opera.”

A few hours after our conversation, Szekely attended her birthday celebration, where she was the guest speaker for several dozens of her friends. She also speaks at her resort every Wednesday and mingles with guests several times a week.

In addition to her social activities, Szekely always looks to learn more, and longevity research shows that people who reach age 80 and beyond learn something new every day. Szekely knows four different languages and immerses herself in different cultures.

“My German is rusty, but my French is excellent because I think a lot in French [and] I dream in that,” she says. “And Spanish, I speak every day.”

If there was one takeaway that Szekely would want to leave you with, “the main thing is: Be learning.”

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