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Dr. Ephraim Engleman, 103-Year-Old Physician, Shares Longevity Secrets: Says Exercise Is Overrated

Ephraim Engleman exercise

Dr. Ephraim Engleman, a 103-year-old physician, says a simple diet and a purposeful life are his longevity secrets.

Dr. Ephraim Engleman, a 103-year-old physician, says exercise isn’t necessary for successful aging, contradicting longstanding lore that exercise is the fountain of youth.

Engleman, who will celebrate his 104th birthday in March 2015, said keeping a regular routine, working, pursuing meaningful hobbies and a simple diet have kept him healthy and happy for the past 10 decades.

“I was never really physically active, and I think exercise is over-rated,” Engleman told Today. “My exercise has always been limited to walks and playing my violin.”

Engleman, director of the Rosalind Russell-Ephraim P. Engleman Rheumatology Research Center at UCSF, doesn’t follow a restrictive diet, but said he never smoked and rarely drank.

“I have never smoked and rarely drank, maybe just a sip of wine at dinners,” said Dr. Ephraim. “But I don’t believe that necessarily has helped me live to 103. I’ve never been one of those people who pay a lot of attention to nutrition. I’ve eaten what I’ve enjoyed all of my life.”

He added: “For breakfast, that’s eggs and maybe some smoked salmon. For lunch I have a sandwich. I used to bring a bologna sandwich to work, and people would kid me all the time. For supper, I’ll just have some soup or chicken. And I like ice cream. Vanilla. It’s important to enjoy your life and enjoy what you eat.”

Engleman has been happily married to his 99-year-old wife, Jean, for 73 years, and keeps a regular routine, saying not retiring may be the key to his longevity.

“I get up about 7:30 or 8: 00 a.m., take a shower and I have breakfast at my home in San Mateo,” said Ephraim. “I go into work three days a week in San Francisco. I don’t see many patients anymore, but I still have major administrative duties as director of our research center.

Engleman continues: “Then I come home, have some dinner, and spend time with my gorgeous wife, and then I play the violin. I’m a musical nut. I play almost every night, for at least 30 to 45 minutes. And then once a week, we have chamber music at my home. We’re the San Andreas Quartet. I think it’s important to remain engaged in life, and music and my work are ways to do that.”

Ephraim, who detailed his longevity secrets in his memoir, My Century, said he’s too busy enjoying his life to dwell on his age. Engleman has no plans to retire and underscored that remaining mentally engaged is critical to healthy, successful aging.

“As long as the university will have me, and as long as my brain is good, I’m going to keep on working,” Ephraim said. “It’s just important to stay engaged, mentally active, whether you’re 30 or 103.”

Related: Jane Fonda, 77, reveals anti-aging workout and diet secrets