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I'm 85 and still do strength training 3 times a week. Here are my top tips for longevity.

I'm 85 and still do strength training 3 times a week. Here are my top tips for longevity.
  • Frank Noble is 85 years old and his routine that includes regular exercise, gardening, and golfing.

  • He also reads the newspaper every day and reads non-fiction books to keep his mind active.

  • Noble emphasizes the importance of maintaining social connections and spending time with his wife.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Frank Noble, an 85-year-old from Porepunkah in Victoria, Australia. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I've been blessed with good genetics. My brother is 88 years old and he is still an active golfer. My father lived to his 80s, and my aunt lived to 106.

However, there's no doubt I have also made lifestyle choices that have helped me to get to where I am and feel the way I do at 85.

Overall, I feel fit and healthy, and I'm enjoying life. There's nothing that I can't do because of fitness. Here are my top tips for longevity.

I exercise regularly

I've always been active and played sports. I played tennis in my school days and senior country football until I was 25.

Nowadays, my main forms of exercise are playing golf, which I've played for 58-plus years (since before I was married), doing activities in my garden, and cutting my own firewood. We heat entirely by wood during the winter and I typically have more than three years' worth of wood stacked in the yard.

For my 80th birthday, my daughter organized a gym membership for me. My main goal was to try to maintain my physical condition for as long as possible.

A personal trainer devised a program for me and five years later, I'm still practicing it. It's basically strength and conditioning exercises with weights, as I have a heart condition and was advised not to do aerobic exercise. I usually go to the gym three times a week.

I grow my own vegetables

We have a reasonable sized garden and I try to keep it productive 12 months a year. We try to eat as many fresh vegetables as we can, with sweet corn being my favorite.

I've always tried to eat well. That's part of our lifestyle, I suppose. I have no problem using supermarket-bought food, but we certainly like to, where we can, use our own homegrown vegetables.

Gardening and doing movements like bending over and picking beans, for example, is great exercise. I dig the garden by hand, I don't use any machines, and I have compost that requires turning over regularly, which is a heavy job. I'd probably spend six hours a day on average in the garden three or four days a week.

Frank Noble in his garden.
Frank Noble grows his own vegetables.Courtesy Frank Noble

I follow a daily routine

I've always been structured in the way I eat. I have a light breakfast at 8am. Lunch is at 12:30pm, and is soup in the winter and salad in the summer. Dinner is at 6:30pm.

I don't really eat snacks. I have a mid-morning coffee every day and I have an apple before bed, because I find it helps me sleep better. I do have a soft spot for a bit of chocolate after dinner at night. It's not always dark chocolate, but I know that's better for me.

I was brought up in a non-drinking household and I don't drink beer. We do enjoy wine in moderation, generally one glass a night.

I stay curious

I read the newspaper online every day and I consume non-fiction books. I've never been into crosswords, but I do enjoy doing Sudoku occasionally.

I also love documentaries. I'm always absorbing anything to do with history and the natural world.

Frank Noble pushing a wheelbarrow.
Frank Noble strength trains three times a week.Courtesy Frank Noble

I retired young, but I maintained social connections

I graduated from the Victorian School of Forestry at Creswick in 1959 and went on to become District Forester of the Forests Commission Victoria and District Superintendent of National Parks, before becoming Regional Manager of Central Gippsland for all the land and natural resource managing departments.

I retired when I was 55 years old in 1993. If I take out my time at university and forestry school, at the end of this year I'll have been retired for as long as I worked.

There are still more than half of my graduating class who meet annually. We're all in our 80s now. That's an important social get together on my calendar every year.

I also play golf most weeks to maintain social connections. It's a challenging game to play, but a great place to meet people. I had a single-figure handicap up until my early 80s, but these days it's more of a social outing.

I look after my life partner

I've been married to my wife Betty for 58 years. I've made her breakfast in bed every day since our honeymoon. I always say meeting her was my lucky break in life. Betty is fun to live with and very caring.

We do virtually everything together, except play golf. We tried to play together once — and we won the event, actually — but she's never played since.

I think it's important to look after your life partner. There's an old saying, "happy wife, happy life" and it's very true. Betty gives my life purpose. I can't imagine life without her.

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