For anyone in need of motivation to exercise, meet 100-year-old Les Savino, who hits the gym most days of the week for a three-hour workout.
“I don’t want to go now that I’m 100, but I’m going anyway. I know it’s necessary if I want to enjoy life. Most people at 100 are no longer enjoying life. My days are as normal as when I was 30,” Savino, who lives independently in Hanover, Pennsylvania, told TODAY.com.
“Exercise is much better than medicine… A lot of people live on pills, but not me. I take pills for high blood pressure and that’s it.
Savino lifts weights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He uses 15 weight machines and does 45 reps on each, or nearly 700 reps per session.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are devoted to cardio. When TODAY.com called, the great-grandfather had just finished riding 8 miles on a stationary bike, walking 2 miles on a treadmill and doing some bonus leg, arm and shoulder exercises.
He’s been doing this routine at the Hanover Area YMCA since 1983, always arriving at 7:30 a.m. and finishing at 10:30 a.m.
“It makes me feel good,” Savino says. “When I leave the gym in the morning after my three hours of exercise, I feel much better than when I arrived. I have more flexibility and I feel more motivated in life.
Savino has never had a serious illness like cancer or heart disease. But he has had balance problems for a few years due to Ménière’s disease, an inner ear disorder, and uses a walker.
The centenarian has a sharp mind and memory, chatting with ease and humor when a reporter calls him. He credits his incredible longevity to both good genes and a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:
Be grateful for good genes
Both of Savino’s parents were born in Italy. “They came to this country very poor, so they didn’t have many opportunities to go to the doctor, but they survived extremely well,” he says.
Her father lived to be 84 and her mother to 89.
Eat in moderation
Savino says he’s not much of a meat eater, preferring seafood and vegetables. He also likes to make frittata, an Italian egg dish, once a week.
“A lot of people are gorging themselves on food. I just eat (until) my appetite is satisfied, then I stop,” he notes.
“I’m not looking for any special food. I order everything on the menu like everyone else. But for some reason I don’t have much interest in steaks and meat.
For his 100th birthday in August 2022, Savino bought himself a car – a Lincoln sedan he had previously leased. He drives to the YMCA and the grocery store for his weekly shopping.
The great-grandfather says he has “an extremely dangerous sweet tooth” and indulges in it modestly. He has a small dessert at lunch and after dinner, enjoying a biscuit, licorice or chocolate pudding.
Savino also offers two martinis every night. “Nothing too extreme,” he says of his drinking. “I don’t think I’ve ever been drunk in my life.”
Spend time with the people you love
Savino was married to his high school girlfriend, Barbara, for 70 years. Both were first generation Americans – he from an Italian family, she from an Irish family. Ms Savino died 11 years ago at the age of 89. “We were a good couple,” he says.
They had four children. The oldest is 77, but Savino still calls them “kids.”
The great-grandfather has also had close friends throughout his life and always enjoys making new ones when he trains.
“I’m very optimistic, always have been. I look on the bright side,” he says.
Find the job you love
Savino worked until the age of 83 and did not want to retire, but he did so because his constant business trips bothered his wife.
He spent his career in the food industry, earning a degree in food technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1948. This was after returning from military service in World War II, where he flew heavy bombers B-17.
Back home, Savino worked for a corporation, then started his own consulting business, meeting clients from all over the world. “I liked it. I didn’t want to stop,” he says.
Stimulate your mind
It’s important to stay well-informed and mentally involved, he says. Savino reads a lot, enjoying detective stories in particular because they are difficult.
He always had hobbies, including creating stained glass and building and restoring furniture.
Take care of your body
Savino says he always watched his diet, led a clean life and exercised. He never smoked.
“Every time I go for my medical examination, the doctor says, ‘I don’t know why you are here.’ It’s a good feeling,” he notes.
“I know I’m lucky. That’s why I keep doing what I’m doing. If I don’t feel like going to the gym, I still go because the gym gives me repaid several times.
Stay on the smart side of life
“If you’re smart, then you live a clean life. You need to know what you can do that is good for you,” advises Savino.
“If you develop a healthy lifestyle, you will go through life enjoying it. If you love life, it preserves you. You want to continue. Here I am at 100. I don’t want to stop.