Secrets to Long Life From the World's Oldest People

Nothing beats the expertise gained from a lifetime of experience. So when it comes to the secrets of living a long and happy life, no one knows better than those who've done it themselves. We've compiled some of the tips for longevity left behind from some of the world's oldest people. So cross your fingers, follow their advice and perhaps someday, people will be asking you what your secret is.

Jeanne Calment (1875 – 1997: 122 years)

The oldest documented person in history lived in the south of France. When she died one of her biographers, Jean-Marie Robine remarked that Calment was someone who "was immune to stress. She once said, 'If you can't do anything about it, don't worry about it.'"

A housewife who never had to work, she found time for many athletic pursuits including tennis, roller skating, bicycling, swimming and hunting. She even took up fencing in her 80s.

Gertrude Weaver (1898 – 2015: 116 years)

Born to sharecroppers, Weaver married in 1915 and had four children while working as a housekeeper. Faith was important for her longevity. She said, "You have to follow God. Don't follow anyone else. Be obedient and follow the laws and don't worry about anything. I've followed him for many, many years and I ain't tired."

Misao Okawa (1898 – 2015: 117 years)

Japan has one of the largest populations of elderly people in the world. Scientists attribute some of that longevity to a diet that leans heavily on seafood. Okawa's favorite meal was sushi, specifically mackerel on vinegar-steamed rice.

Jiroemon Kimura (1897 – 2013: 116 years)

Another record-setting Japanese supercentenarian was Jiroemon Kimura who set the record of oldest documented man. He attributed his longevity to diet, saying the key is to eat healthy, in small portions and don't be picky. He did express partiality to red bean cake and rice.

Jeralean Talley (1899 – 2015: 116 years)

Talley liked to stay active, bowling until the age of 104. She continued going on yearly fishing trips up until her death. She said the secret to longevity was to always, "do unto others as you desire them to do unto you." She also enjoyed pork, including Hog's Head Cheese, pigs ears and feet.

Christian Mortensen (1882 – 1998: 115 years)

Mortensen was born in Denmark and immigrated to the United States in 1903 at the age of 21. When asked about the key to longevity he said, "Live a good, clean life!" For Mortensen this meant spending time with friends, drinking good water, no alcohol, smoking the occasional cigar, staying positive and singing a lot.

Maria Esther de Capovilla (1889 – 2006: 116 years)

Her daughter described the world's oldest living Ecuadorian as having a very tranquil character, "She does not get upset by anything. She takes things very calmly and she as been that way her whole life." She would always eat three meals a day with a small cup of wine at lunch but no other alcohol or smoking. She also enjoyed her sweets, usually having a dessert of gelatin, ice cream or cake in the evening.

Emiliano Mercado del Toro (1891 – 2007: 115 years)

Del Toro claimed to remember the U.S. invasion of his home island of Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War in 1898. In 1918 he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served during WWI. He was the longest-lived veteran and the oldest person to have been born in Puerto Rico.

His relatives chalked up his longevity to his sense of humor and his easy-going attitude. He never married but hinted at some of his adventures during press interviews. He was serenaded during his 115th birthday by one of his favorite Puerto Rican entertainers, Iris Chacon who was quoted after his passing, "His wisdom is something I learned a lot from. His life is an example of how you're supposed to live your life, happily and doing good, for it will give you longevity and goodwill from everyone."

Antonia Gerena Rivera (1900 – 2015: 115 years)

Rivera was the oldest resident of Florida and the second-oldest person ever born in Puerto Rico. She and her family were Jehovah's Witnesses and did not celebrate birthdays, but when she reached 115 they contacted the press to share her story and celebrate her life. Her son attributed her longevity to genetics, as she was one of three siblings to live past 100, and regularly drinking brandy.