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Living the good long life

By Martha Stewart,
July 15, 2013 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
  • Martha Stewart shares her secrets for living well and living long
  • There is great value in knowing a fun,group card game
  • Don't just create a bucket list: Move on from ruminations

( -- This is a collection of excerpts from "Living the Good Long Life" by Martha Stewart, published by Clarkson Potter.

Combine travel with exercise

I love to walk. But when I discovered hiking, it took walking to a whole new level. Suddenly, I found I could combine walking with my passion for traveling. In one sense, it's just walking, but it takes me to new heights, literally. I've hiked all over Acadia National Park in Maine, near where I have my summer home, but it's fun to figure out where else in the world I want to hike. So far I've accomplished a few major hikes, such as Mount Kilimanjaro, the Inca Trail, and Northern Sikkim. They were all so fabulous and memorable. Next I'd love to do some trails in China.

My favorite workout

I started lifting weights many years ago, and I've always enjoyed it. I like feeling strong -- I can literally feel the improvement after each workout, and I know that at minimum I'm increasing my strength, my bone mass, and maintaining my weight (especially when I'm making up for some delicious indulgence at dinner the night before).

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Because I now have good overall strength and am usually pressed for time, Mary, my trainer, has me doing two-in-one moves that are really wonderful. For instance, I'll lie on my back on a bench, holding weights in both hands and arms open perpendicular to the bench. As I bring my hands together in a "fly," I bend one knee to my chest and extend the other leg with each move. The works the chest, legs, and core in one move!

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Take a different route every day

I almost never take the same route twice. I follow different paths through the woods or around the farm, and in the city, I wander down various streets to peek in on new restaurants or shops. I take new routes coming into the city so there's always something novel and interesting to look at -- new architecture, a field, or a reservoir I hadn't seen before. It helps the brain to always keep things interesting! And you'll never be bored.

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Play games socially

I am not a big social game player, but the value of knowing a fun card game or word or numbers game to play when there is downtime is very beneficial. I like cards but have really never had a lot of that "downtime" to engage in poker or bridge or even canasta. I recently learned an easy card game called Gozo that can be played by up to five people, and uses two decks of cards. It is a lot of fun and very engaging. I do promise, however, to really learn both poker and bridge, and I also promise to one day have some of that elusive downtime we all dream about.

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Meeting my mother's friends

When my mother died, I was astonished by how many people came to her funeral. It was standing-room only in this large Catholic church in Weston, Connecticut. Honestly, I had no idea how many friends she had! I knew that she kept busy; she was always writing letters, calling to catch up, offering to drive someone to do errands or see the doctor. But I saw that she was so extremely connected to the people in her town. Talking to these friends after the service was such as lovely, moving experience. They each offered me some little reminiscence of my mom -- stories, insights, and memories. We all need to work harder on social skills -- visiting, remembering birthdays, taking trips together -- with both friends and family.

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Create a bucket list

Keep a list of things you want to do or feel you must do during your lifetime -- and then checking them off before you kick the bucket -- is a really good thing. That's why movies like "The Bucket List" resonate with so many of us. It certainly resonated with me. While on a photo shoot in Palm Springs, California, it was important to me to visit Joshua Tree National Park. Known for its incredible rock formations and its extraordinary vegetative wonders, it had long been on my "bucket list." It was well worth the early 4 a.m. departure and the long drive into the desert. It is one of those places I will never forget.

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Just move on

There are any number of incredibly challenging things that I have to deal with every day -- I get mixed news on a financial report, or I have to make a speech in front of hundreds of people. So I long ago developed the ability to deal with stress: you just have to solve one problem immediately and, if you have to let off some steam. A good way to do this is by going for a quick walk. And then, perhaps most important, you move on. You don't ruminate or worry, but keep moving forward. Life is a pile of problems that have to be solved one way or another, and the best way is to look at each one individually, figure it out, and move on.

Treat your feet well

I never wear the same shoes two days in a row. Rather, I rotate through high heels, medium heels, low heels, and flats. Also, I do not confine my feet. I never wear shoes at home, and when I'm riding in the car, my feet are bare so I can wiggle my toes and give my feet some air.

I also walk barefoot on gravel all the time. I like to walk on all different kinds of surfaces, particularly when I hike. Practicing walking on uneven surfaces (safely!) is good for foot health, because it strengthens the ankles and improves balance.

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Be proactive

Living well is not a passive act. It is imperative to be engaged in taking care of ourselves. In addition to exercising and maintaining a varied and nutritious diet, one of the most important things I do for myself is to make sure I consult the right professionals at the right times. I try my best to schedule my routine doctor visits and age-appropriate medical tests for the entire year all at once, using the advice of my primary-care physician (very important to have one). That way, nothing gets forgotten and everything will be done when it should be. Get those appointments on you calendar now if you haven't already -- and see how good it feels to take charge of your health.

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