Is 70 the New 30?

Clint Eastwood still winning Oscars at 78. "Godfather of Fitness" Jack LaLanne still working out two hours a day at 94. All around us, individuals who would have once been considered "past their prime" are accomplishing incredible feats that make people half their age shake their heads in amazement.

As the average life expectancy continues to increase (people are living longer than they ever have, according to the National Center for Health Statistics), the population is challenging the stereotypes of age. And 70, 80, 90, and even 100 are beginning to take on a whole new meaning. Not only does this generation of septuagenarians and octogenarians look years younger than their parents did, they feel younger and are living fuller, richer, healthier lives. Follow these eight tips, so you too can start proving that age is just a number.

Eat well. Consume a well-balanced diet with ample portions of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains; fat-free and low-fat dairy products; legumes; and lean meats such as fish and poultry. Try to eat at least two servings of fish a week, preferably fatty fish that's rich in omega-3s, such as salmon. And avoid sugary beverages, which can spike blood sugar and calorie absorption.

Remain active. A study conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston tracked approximately 2,400 male doctors over the course of 25 years; they were at an average age of 72 when the study began. The participants who exercised two to four times a week (and did not smoke as well as maintained normal body weight and blood pressure) had a 54 percent chance of living to 90. Those who did nothing had only a 4 percent chance of reaching 90.

Quit smoking. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking shortens a person's life spans by an average of 13 to 14.5 years. The good news is that it's never too late to quit. A Duke University study found that male smokers who quit by age 35 increased their life spans by 6.9 to 8.5 years, while women who quit boosted theirs by 6.1 to 7.7 years.

Test yourself. It's important to get regular checkups, as well as key exams such as cholesterol and blood-pressure tests. To lower your cholesterol levels, limit unsaturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fatty acids found in processed and packaged foods. To keep your blood pressure in check, reduce your sodium intake to no more than one teaspoon of salt per day.

Get your z's. In addition to decreasing your energy and overall daily performance, the National Sleep Foundation reports that lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing serious health conditions such as diabetes, depression, and even heart problems. Everyone's sleep needs are different; to find out what yours are, experts recommend you turn off the alarm clock when you're well rested, and see how long you naturally sleep. While you're at it, ask your spouse if you snore, as this may indicate sleep apnea, a condition that causes sufferers to temporarily stop breathing. An estimated 18 million Americans have the disorder, but many don't know it, the National Sleep Foundation reports.

Boost your brainpower. Experts have long touted the benefits of mental activities—and is it any wonder? According to a study published in 2002 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who read, solve crossword puzzles, play cards, or visit museums are less likely to undergo age-related mental decline than those who do not.

Get a dog. Pet owners—and especially dog owners—generally have lower blood pressure, better fitness levels, fewer feelings of loneliness, and a lower risk for depression than those who don't own pets. In fact, a UCLA study found that dog owners required far less medical care for stress-induced aches and pains than non-dog owners. In a study conducted at New York's City Hospital, heart patients who owned pets were much more likely to be alive a year after they were discharged from the hospital than those who didn't own pets.

Be an optimist. In a study conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, optimistic people were 50 percent less likely to die an early death than their pessimistic counterparts. According to the researchers, people with a positive outlook on life are generally less stressed out and better equipped to handle adversity, which may make them healthier.