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Good Question: What's The Recipe To A Long Life?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Twin Cities legend is even more legendary on Wednesday.

WCCO Radio and the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Sid Hartman turned 97 years old and as you know, is busy as ever. Sid's birthday has us wondering, what's the recipe to a long life? Good Question.

Older Americans are living large and long. There are more than 55,000 people in the U.S. who are 100 or older.

Frances Torstenson is one of them.

"I'll be 104 July 11," she said.

WCCO asked, "What's the recipe to a long life?"

Torstenson says, "I had good food and I had good medical care and I had lots of love from my family."

She also credits her faith and growing up on farm fresh organic vegetables.

Her 98-year-old neighbor at Augustana Care, Lloyd Barnstable, has an answer too.

"Get plenty of rest, keep working, keep active," Barnstable said.

He is certainly active.

"I walk 30 minutes every day," he said.

The experts agree, "Be active, be active." That's what Dr. James Pacala says.

Stay active physically. Don't just exercise, make sure you don't sit and keep doing things for yourself.

Stay active socially. Get out of the house, join a card group, a church group.

Stay active mentally. Bingo, crossword, books, make sure you keep on learning.

According to the U.S. Census, the average lifespan in the US is 78.8 years. Women live 4.8 years longer.

Pacala says there are three life scenarios:

You pass away young or your health gradually declines or he explains, "Then there's the third scenario, the person who is healthy and lives well into their 90s and even past 100 and Sid has been fortunate to be in that last group," Pacala said.

He says environment, income and healthcare are key, so is diet. Genetics are less important but factor in, like Susan-Elizabeth's 99-year-old great grandmother, Mama Cook, who ate fried food every day.

"OK, that's a person who was dealt an especially advantageous genetic hand," Pacala said.

Pacala says the biggest factor to length of life is smoking. And what about that daily cocktail?

"Moderation, what your mom told you. Moderation is the key," Pacala said.

After all, advice from your elders is key.

Frances says she has a message for Sid.

"OK, Sid, keep going and keep living and keep doing a good job," Torstenson said.

Lloyd has one, too, a message from an "older" man, he says, "Happy Birthday Sid, thumbs up!"

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