What is one of the richest people in the world doing to stay healthy at 77 and live long?
Here is Abilio Diniz. He wants you to do all the things he can do when you, too, are pushing 80: box, play squash, pump iron, even procreate: He has a 7-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son with his second wife, Geyze, who’s 41 -- younger than all four children from his first marriage.
Diniz has written down his secrets in a book succinctly titled “Smart Choices for a Successful Life,” Bloomberg Pursuitswill report in its Spring 2014 issue. It’s a best-seller in Brazil, where Diniz lives and where he made his fortune -- some $3.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index -- by building a supermarket chain into the country’s biggest retailer.
Diniz exercises two hours a day, a step down from his previously punishing regimen of thrice daily exercise for as many as five hours total -- although Loturco is adamant that they’ve modified Diniz’s routine based on the newest science, not his age.
Vigorous, varied cardio is Diniz’s cornerstone. Running backward in the dark hones coordination and proprioception -- the sense of where his core and limbs are in space.
“Abilio works out with the intensity of a 40-year-old,” Loturco says. “I have never known him to mess around.”
When you’re approaching your ninth decade, determination gets you only so far. To combat the loss of muscle mass that comes with old age, Diniz lifts moderate amounts of weight at high speed and then adds bigger loads. Losing muscle to age clearly spooks him.
“You don’t need to be in a perpetual state of deprivation,” Longo says in a phone interview.
Diniz, too, believes in cutting yourself some slack. He generally avoids white bread and red meat, getting much of his protein from the mozzarella di bufala in the Abilio salad he orders at lunch most days from Dressing, a restaurant owned by one of his sons. Dining out, though, he’ll order lasagna, and at a barbecue, he’ll eat steak.
“I’m no Shiite,” he says, using his favorite, if misguided, shorthand for an excess of ascetic living.
In his quest for eternity, Diniz allows that he also benefits from genetics: His father died at 94; his mother, at 98.
When it comes to stress, Diniz has practical advice just about anyone can follow: Set priorities and give yourself time between appointments. Delegate, he says, and keep phone calls brief. Learn how to say no to extraneous commitments.