To Live a Hundred Years, 1901

In 1901, “a well-known physician” (not so well-known that he was worth naming) advised following these 19 rules if you wanted to make your century.

Some of them are interestingly current – the non-dairy movement has been getting more popular in recent years, and including fat as an important part of your diet is on the rise after many years in the wilderness.

Reducing stress is also key – get enough sleep, take frequent and short holidays (which is better, I agree, than taking one long holiday), and “limit your ambition”. Don’t burn out, I guess.

Some are very sensible given everyday life in the period – escaping the worst of the air pollution by living in the country, and making sure your drinking water is safe.

I’d like a bit more information about some of the others, though. Keeping your bedroom door open all night – why? Is it to let the air circulate in a less potentially smoggy way that opening the window? Or is it because of open fires in bedrooms and the risk of carbon monoxide due to an unswept chimney?

And why a mat at the bedroom door? If I kept my bedroom door open all night, with a mat outside, what would happen is that the cats wouldn’t trample over us, plucking the mat at regular intervals throughout the night. Not only would this affect my eight hours sleep (which is wishful thinking in any case), but it would also be breaking rule 13, disallowing pets in living spaces.


Portsmouth Evening News, 28th May 1901

Portsmouth Evening News, 28th May 1901


A well-known physician declares that, barring accidents, there is no reason why one who keeps the following 19 rules should not live to be a hundred : –

First – Eight hours sleep.

Second – Sleep on your right side.

Third – Keep your bedroom door open all night.

Fourth – Have a mat at your bedroom door.

Fifth – Do not have your bedstead against a wall.

Sixth – No cold tub in the morning, but a bath at the temperature of the body.

Seventh – Exercise before breakfast.

Eighth – Eat little meat, and see that it is well-cooked.

Ninth – For adult, drink no milk.

Tenth – Eat plenty of fat to feed the cells which destroy disease germs.

Eleventh – Avoid intoxicants, which destroy these cells.

Twelfth – Daily exercise in the open air.

Thirteenth – Allow no pet animals in your living rooms. They are apt to carry about disease germs.

Fourteenth – Live in the country if you can.

Fifteenth – Watch the three D’s – drinking water, damp and drains.

Sixteenth – Have change of occupation.

Seventeenth – Take frequent and short holidays.

Eighteenth – Limit your ambition.

Nineteenth – Keep your temper.

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