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Healthy Life

8 Secrets to a Long, Healthy Life: Jacques Houot and the Fountain of Youth

Who is Jacques Houot?

  • Houot lives in Carbondale, Colorado, where he is an avid skier, biker, and all-around athlete
  • The native Frenchman is 82-years-old but maintains a very active lifestyle
  • There are several habits people can adopt to live a longer life

An Avid Athlete

Every day, Jacques Houot gets up in his Carbondale, Colorado home and stretches on an inversion table. The device allows him to hang upside down for a time, which stretches his spine and relieves back pain. This is an important ritual for Houot, who will inevitably spend the rest of his day of working out, biking, and/or skiing.

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In fact, every day, the French native tackles a new adventure. An enthusiastic man, who often skis without a shirt on, Houot is bold, funny, energetic and enthusiastic.

He is also 82 years old.

“I’m 41 in each leg,” he jokes.

Houot’s remarkable lifestyle is the focus of the short film, The Frenchy.

Despite his clear skin, wide smile, and twinkling eyes, the 82-year-old Houot has had his fair share of challenges and health scares. These include a heart attack, a bout with cancer, quitting a severe smoking habit, and more.

However, it’s hard to deny he has tapped into the “fountain of youth.”

Secrets to a Longer Life
So what are the secrets to a long, healthy life? “I’m a lucky boy,” jokes Houot, but it’s not all about luck and good genes.

  1. Physical activity. This first one should not surprise you. You may not win hundreds of medals like Houot, but anyone can work 30 minutes of exercise into their daily routine. Can’t find a block of thirty minutes? Break it up into 3, ten-minute segments of time. Ten minutes is enough time for a quick walk or some other form of exercise.
  2. Keep your brain active. Read books, do crossword puzzles, or take a class. Protecting your brain is as important as protecting your heart.
  3. humor. Laughter is the best medicine, after all. One study tracked people in Norway and found that a “sense of humor is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource.” Spend time watching a funny movie, enjoy good jokes, or simply remember to smile more. It will lift your spirits and protect your health!
  4. Don’t smoke. Houot credits his doctor, who advised him to stop smoking, for saving his life. Johns Hopkins Medicine says quitting the dangerous habit is the most important thing you can do for a longer life: “Smoking affects coronary arteries and lungs, and smokers also have increased rates of cancer and risk of stroke.”
  5. Maintain a healthy weight. Being obese or even overweight puts pressure on your heart and other organs, as well as your joints. Dr. Hans Schmidt explains the dangers of being obese. “There’s no question that it can shorten your lifespan, and by large numbers. If you can get the weight off before there’s major damage done to your organs,” he says, “that will tremendously prolong your life.”
  6. Eat a plant-based diet. Many studies show the benefits of a vegetarian or a vegan diet, in which most of your calories come from plant-based foods. Can’t cut out meat completely? Instead, try lowering your overall intake. Eat meat only twice a week, for example, instead of every day. Focus especially on reducing your intake of red meat. Many scientists are zeroing in on the consumption of red meat as a cause of many health issues for Americans. According to one study, “Red and processed meat intakes were associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.”
  7. Socialize. Spending time with family and friends is vital to emotional and mental health. Many studies point to the danger of isolation, a problem many older Americans face. One study found that “people who have isolated faces have a 50% greater risk of premature death than those who have stronger social connections. Make sure you spend time with your friends. Join a community center, take a class, join a book club, volunteer at a local organization – in general, get out and socialize.
  8. Sleep well. Seven to eight hours of sleep are necessary for your body to function properly. Despite what you may think, you’re not simply “resting” during the night. According to Dr. Mark Stibich, “Sleep is a busy time for your body. Various processes are at work that help everything from your cardiovascular system to your brain function at their best.”

Learn more about the indefatigable Jacques Houot, in The Frenchyon SurvivorNetTV.

Learn more about SurvivorNet’s rigorous medical review process.