102-year-old woman who still works shares tips for long life

* Walk, meditate, socialize, look ahead

Decades after most Americans retire, 102-year-old Deborah Szekely is still on the job — a habit shared by some of the longest-living people around the world.

Szekely works three days a week at Rancho La Puerta, the resort she started with her late husband in 1940 in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico.

After previously working as chief cook, general manager and activities director, she’s still helping to ensure the ranch and its organic farm run smoothly, CNBC reported.

“When nature says, ‘You got to stop, Deborah,’ Deborah will stop. Until then, she’ll keep going,” Szekely told CNBC Make It.

Deborah Szekely was born in 1922.Courtesy Rancho La Puerta
In the Blue Zones — places around the world where residents live extraordinarily healthy long lives — many older people never retire, and instead “live out their purpose into their 90s and 100s,” Dan Buettner, Blue Zones founder, noted.

“I think that to retire, one can face potential shriveling up and ending in a nursing home. It’s fun staying alive and working.”

102-year-old’s habits for a long life
Szekely’s sense of adventure began early.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1922 and married at 17, she resided in California and Tahiti before moving to Mexico with her husband to start a “health camp,” according to her biography on the resort’s website.

Szekely’s motto is, “Always be curious about what will happen tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade.”

Here are some of her longevity secrets:

* Walking
Her routine includes walking every day, staying positive and structuring her life to be healthy.

“You don’t get to be 102, like, ‘Oh, well, I’ll make an exception here, an exception there.’ I don’t do exceptions. I enjoy my healthy life,” Szekely told CNBC.

“I meditate in action, in walking, in doing things. … My life is a meditation. I don’t (focus on the) negative.”

There are many benefits of walking, including improving heart health, boosting metabolism, and combatting stress and anxiety.

Regular physical activity is built into the Blue Zones lifestyle, where people move naturally all day long — every 20 minutes or so — including walking and gardening.

“Always be curious about what will happen tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade,” Szekely says. Courtesy Rancho La Puerta.

* Warm social connections
Szekely values friendships and spending time with other people. “It’s much more fun with friends,” she says.

Some studies indicate friendships are essential to health and longevity.

Making friends who encourage in healthy behaviors “is going to do more to make you healthy than any biohack or anti-aging nostrum,” Buettner previously told TODAY.com.

* No regrets
Common regrets among older people include spending too much time worrying and not traveling enough.

But Szekely avoids those thoughts and prefers to count her blessings.

“I don’t believe in looking back. I look ahead. I don’t say, ‘Oh, well, I wish I could do that or that.’ That’s a game. It doesn’t give me any strength, any energy. I would rather read a book than look back,” Szekely told CNBC.

“Don’t waste time looking back. That’s a total waste of time. You can’t do anything about it, it’s done. Look forward, and look forward to things that you want.”


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