Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was a Japanese physician and longevity expert who lived until the age of 105. He is best known for his book, Living Long, Living Good. In the book, he shared advice that helped make Japan one of the world’s leaders on living longer. His advice and tips resonate with the views proposed here at the Living to 100 Club. His is an apt prescription for aging well. Here are his six tips:
- Do not retire, but if you must, do so later than at 65: Because people today are living a lot longer, Dr. Hinohara said we should be retiring at a later age as well. Until a few months before his death, he continued to treat patients up to 18 hours a day. His appointment book had space for five more years!
- Exercise regularly and eat a spartan diet: Dr. Hinohara took the stairs when available. He carried his own luggage, while giving 150 lectures a year. In addition, his talks lasted 60 to 90 minutes, which he would deliver while standing for the entire presentation. His breakfasts consisted of coffee, a glass of milk, and orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Lunch was very light, and dinners consisted of vegetables, some fish and rice, and, twice a week, 3-4 ounces of lean meat.
- Maintain a sense of purpose and engagement in an activity that keeps you busy: Dr. Hinohara believed that not having a full schedule leads to faster aging and earlier death. He added that merely staying busy is not as good as being active in activities that help serve a purpose As he said, “we can be busy but still feel empty and idle on the inside.” Eventually after a full career, he said we should strive to contribute to society. After turning sixty-five, he volunteered his work for 18 hours seven days a week, and “loved every minute of it.”
- Relax or break the rules occasionally: Dr. Hinohara maintained that we should not be hesitant to restrict our behaviors, and not “tire our body with too many rules.” This is a comforting thought.
- Doctors cannot cure everything: This centenarian doctor insisted that science alone cannot help people. “To know illness and help people, he said, we need liberal and visual arts, and not just medical ones.” Then he added, “pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it.”
- Find peace and joy in art: In his final months of life, he refused a feeding tube and was discharged from a hospital. Instead of fighting death, Dr. Hinohara found peace at home, and was content reading his favorite poetry.
When he died in 2017, Dr. Hinohara was chairman emeritus at St. Luke’s International University and honorary president of St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo. Click here to read the original article by Tom Popomaronis.
Thank you, Dr. Hinohara, for your inspiration and your focus on the ingredients to living long and living well.
Dr. Joe Casciani is the owner and Chief Curator for the Living to 100 Club, a source of solutions to living longer and healthier, with a special focus on mindset and attitudes about aging. We are building a community dedicated to living our best lives and offering inspiration about staying positive and making it over the hurdles.