Japanese doctor who lived to 105 says the secret to a long life is never retiring

What’s the key to a long and healthy life? A clean diet? Exercise? Spending more time with family? While there are many strategies that are believed to prolong our lives, Japanese doctor Shigeaki Hinohara said the real secret is to never retire.

And he spoke from experience! Hinohara studied longevity for a living, and lived until 105.

While Hinohara emphasized that those looking for a long life should not retire at all, he conceded that, if you must, you shouldn’t take the plunge until after you turn 65. And he practiced what he preached. Until a few months before his death on July 18, Hinohara continued to treat patients, and worked up to 18 hours a day.

Hinohara is not alone in his assertion that continuing to work late in life will help you live longer. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, working past age 65 was found to lead to an 11 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

old person working photo
Getty Images | Tim Boyle

If you don’t like the idea of working well into your old age, Hinohara layed out some additional guidelines to help you live a long, healthy life:

Worry less about eating well or getting more sleep, and just have fun.

“We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe that we can keep that attitude as adults, too. It’s best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.”

Don’t be overweight. 

Hinohara said he never got hungry because he focused on his work. You may find that if you keep your mind engaged, you’ll do less mindless snacking.

Don’t blindly follow what your doctor says.

Doing your own research and getting a second opinion could save you from getting an unnecessary procedure or taking a medication that could be avoided by adjusting your lifestyle.

To conquer pain, have fun.

There’s that word “fun” again. “Pain is mysterious,” said Hinohara, “and having fun is the best way to forget it. If a child has a toothache, and you start playing a game together, he or she immediately forgets the pain. Hospitals must cater to the basic need of patients: We all want to have fun.”

Always take the stairs and carry your own belongings.

You’ve heard it over and over again. Increase your daily activity with little changes like taking the farthest parking spot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Hinohara recommends taking them two at a time!