Three women in their 80s have been friends for 70 years. Here are their 5 longevity tips for living a long, happy life.

  • Mary Grace Tassone, Sylvia Crane, and Joan Harris went to high school together in the 1950s.

  • They remained friends and are now in the same care home.

  • They shared their tips for staying healthy for so long, including laughing and walking.

Research suggests that strong relationships are a secret weapon for longevity — which might explain why three women in their 80s who have stayed friends since childhood are so happy and healthy in their eighth decade of life.

Mary Grace Tassone, 86, Sylvia Crane, 87, and Joan Harris, 88, were full of energy and stories from their time in high school together when they spoke to Business Insider.

The three met in the 1950s at a small Catholic school in Grass Valley, Northern California, where they'd wear their hair in curlers to get ready for evening dances at the local community hall.

Black and white photo of two teenage couples dancing at prom in 1052.
Mary Grace Tassone and her friend Elsie Webb at prom with their dates in 1952.Atria Grass Valley

"The nuns didn't like that, but we did it anyway," Tassone joked. "It was so much fun. I loved music and the songs, and it was just the most happiest time of my life when I was in high school."

Once they graduated, they all went their separate ways, with Tassone becoming a nurse and Crane and Harris becoming wives, mothers, and homemakers.

But they kept in touch — Harris and Crane sent each other Christmas cards every year, and Tassone was even present after the birth of one of Crane's children.

Almost 70 years after graduating, they have been reunited at the Atria Grass Valley senior living community in California, where they spend some time together but also pursue their own interests, which they think helps them stay happy and healthy.

With more people living past 75, staying healthy in older age is not just important on an individual level, but something one economist recently told BI should be top of mind for policymakers.

Sylvia Crane and Joan Harris holding their school yearbook photo.
Crane and Harris graduated in the same year. Here they hold their class photo from their yearbook.Atria Grass Valley

The friends shared their tips for younger people who want to age well, too.

Walk every day

Tassone said it's not always easy at her age, but she tries to walk once around the care home, which is about a quarter of a mile, each day.

"I try to walk every day if I can if it's not raining or snowing. It's just about getting out of the house, isn't it? It's so important to get fresh air," she said.

Research suggests that any exercise is better than nothing for our health, with one 2023 study finding that taking as little as 500 extra steps a day could reduce the risk of heart disease and early death.

Laugh as much as possible

"Laughter is the best medicine. We laugh a lot. We tease each other a lot, too," Harris said.

Laughter releases feel-good endorphins into the brain, which are thought to boost the immune system by producing chemicals that help fight stress, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Eat with friends

Crane said that the three of them sit together for meals, meeting in the dining room to eat dinner and talk for an hour with other residents.

A 2017 study found that people who often ate with others were more likely to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.

According to gerontologist professor Rose Anne Kenny, maintaining an active social life may be as important as a healthy diet and exercise for longevity.

Believe in God

"I think you have to believe in God. A lot of people think of him as a supreme being or whatever they want to call him, but I think that it helps balance your life out, no matter how much you believe or follow his teachings," Tassone said.

Religion plays a big part in the lives of many supercentenarians in Latin America and Loma Linda, one of the world's Blue Zones, where people live to 100 more often than average. Dr. Joseph Maroon, an 84-year-old, eight-time Ironman Triathlete and neurosurgeon, who previously shared his longevity tips with BI, believes that being spiritual is essential for maintaining balance in life.

Research suggests it's actually the sense of purpose and community that comes with spirituality that might help believers to live longer.

Tassone, Harris, and Crane sat on chairs.
Tassone, Harris, and Crane spend time together at their senior living community.Atria Grass Valley

Go to happy hour

Tassone, Harris, and Crane all drink alcohol most days. "We have wine with our dinner every single day, and then we have happy hour before dinner sometimes. And then when we have events, we have a glass of wine with that," Harris said.

Drinking wine daily is also a common habit among long-living people in the Blue Zones of Sardinia, Italy, and Ikaria, Greece, and we've all heard stories about centenarians who drank whisky every day, such as Agnes Fenton who was 112 years old when she died. This apparent link between alcohol and longevity could be explained by the socializing and stress relief that the environments where we drink alcohol can provide, BI previously reported.

But it's important to note that there's no safe amount of alcohol to consume, according to the World Health Organization, and that research has linked higher alcohol consumption to an increased risk of cancer.

Read the original article on Business Insider