Ultra-healthy at age 91, William Shatner, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk engages in a host of personal life-extending practices and attitudes.
Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in December 2022. Written by: Laurie Mathena.
William Shatner rose to fame in his role as Captain James T. Kirk on the TV series Star Trek in the 1960s.
Now, more than half a century later, the 91-year-old actor has become the embodiment of the legendary phrase, "live long and prosper."
His career as an actor, director, singer, and author spans seven decades, and includes a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards.
He has written 30 books, recorded 8 albums, performed on Broadway, and has participated in more than 250 television shows, movies, and plays.
In recent years, his personal life has taken center stage.
Shatner is a well-respected breeder of world champion horses, and at age 89, he rode one of his horses to an amateur World Champion title.
At 90, Shatner became the oldest person ever to fly into space, traveling as a passenger on Jeff Bezos' spaceship, Blue Origin.
Now, at 91 years old, he maintains a zest for life and sharp wit that has left many people asking, what's his secret?
William Shatner has a signature sense of humor that has become as synonymous with his name as Captain Kirk.
So, when asked his secret to a good, long life, it's hardly surprising that Shatner offered these words of wisdom:
"Don't die. That it; that's the secret," he said in his book, Live Long And…. "Simply keep living and try not to slow down."
But a closer look at his life reveals that Shatner implements many key life-extending practices shared by the world's longest-living "Blue Zone" communities. This includes lifestyle habits like living with purpose, getting lots of natural movement, eating a more plant-based diet, and prioritizing family.
Most recently, he received a stem cell treatment designed to systemically deliver restorative factors throughout his body.
Shatner's therapy involved intravenous infusion of stem cells manufactured in Southern California.
Stem cell treatment has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any specific disease. Ongoing research has focused on treating immune disorders, metabolic diseases, neurological impairments, aging, and more.
When Shatner announced his stem cell treatment on the popular social media platform, Twitter, he said, "Is it possible to turn back the clock? I will let you know."
On November 21, 2022, an announcement was made by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine that $8 million additional dollars were allocated to conduct more human stem cell research initiatives.
Not long after receiving the stem cell therapy, Shatner became the oldest person to travel into space.
This 10-minute, 17-second journey changed his perspective on life.
"I was so thoroughly unprepared for this experience. It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered," said Shatner in his new book Boldly Go.
"Going into space made me so aware of how fragile our lives are here on Earth, how we need each other, and need to continue to strengthen bonds that connect us to each other. Because out there, there is no life. There is no us."
The journey was also physically demanding.
Traveling at more than 2,000 MPH, passengers experience 5.5 Gs of force—which feels like five times their body weight pressing on their chests, making it difficult to breathe or move.
Passengers must also be able to pass a fitness test prior to the flight, which consists of climbing seven flights of stairs in a minute and a half.
How has Shatner remained robust enough to endure such intense physical strain? He would likely say it's by riding his beloved horses.
"I ride two to three hours every morning that I'm not working—two to three days a week," Shatner said in an interview with the LA Times. "Riding is a stretching and strengthening exercise. It requires balance, expertise, finesse, and strength."
Horseback riding also gives him the motivation to keep himself fit.
"I wake up every morning thinking, I've got to keep myself in shape to ride horses," Shatner said. "If I am not sitting on a horse at least once or twice a week, it feels detrimental to my heart."
Riding horses has become one of Shatner's greatest passions—and it all began by accident. While attending a horse auction, he made a gesture that was mistaken for a bid.
Too embarrassed to back out of the purchase, Shatner went home with his first horse.
"That happy accident led to a part of my life that has brought me so much joy I can scarcely believe it; it sometimes makes me cry just to think about it," said Shatner. "Today, at age 91, I am a better rider than I've ever been."
Shatner has ranches in Kentucky and California, where he breeds and shows world-champion Saddlebred and Quarter horses. He regularly competes with these horses in riding and cart-driving competitions.
As recently as 2019, Shatner won the title of world champion in the Amateur Roadster to Bike Championship at the Kentucky State Fair with one of his Saddlebred horses. He has also won reining awards showing his Quarter horses.
His passion for horses and people led him to start the Hollywood Charity Horse Show in 1990, a yearly fundraiser that supports local and national children's and veteran's charities.
According to Shatner, the charity raises $400,000-$500,000 per year, and 100% of the donations goes to the 501c3 charities he has selected.
In addition to horseback riding, Shatner exercises in the pool for 30 minutes a day, running in place and doing arm and leg exercises.
He also minds what he eats, saying, "I try to adhere to a more plant-based diet these days, with occasional exceptions, and if I am to fish, it must only be for food. Never for sport."
Shatner has a youthful wonder about life that pushes him to constantly try new things.
For example, when he was in his mid-80s, Shatner purchased his first electric bike for himself and his wife, Elizabeth, and they routinely go on 20- to 30-mile excursions.
An e-bike has a motor that assists you when you're pedaling.
"The e-bike got me outside and got me fitter," he told the LA Times. "Going up the hills is not a problem. I've got an arthritic back from all the horseback riding, my muscles are tender, yet I go back to my car when the bike ride's over and I feel perfect."
This has not only kept him active but has also provided an activity he can enjoy with his entire family.
Shatner regularly bikes with more than a dozen of his family members over the hills of Santa Barbara. With this new shared hobby, "a family that was always somewhat tight became a hugely cohesive group," explained Shatner to AARP.
For Shatner, remaining active—physically, professionally, and socially—is part of his unofficial longevity program.
"I know that good, healthy aging comes from not being solitary or brooding," he said in an article in Newsmax. "Say yes to the opportunities life is offering. Say yes to life, yes to dinner, yes to going out, and yes to something new. Because time is too short to lose one opportunity to sacrifice another."
He also continues to say yes to work.
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Since turning 90, Shatner released the book, Boldly Go, he recorded a self-titled album called "Bill", was the star guest at the 2022 LA Comic Con, and he's working on a documentary detailing his trip into space.
He is also the host and executive producer of a documentary series on The History Channel called UnXplained, a non-fiction series that explores the mysteries of the world.
Shatner has been through many desperate times in his life—out of work, broke, divorced, living in his car with his dog.
Yet he never stopped pursuing the acting career he believed was his calling, and never took any of his successes for granted.
Perhaps that is why, now that he is in his ninth decade, Shatner has such a zest for life, a thirst for knowledge, and a deep appreciation of the world around him.
"If you allow yourself to be awed by life, to keep drinking in its limitless knowledge, to keep striving for answers, to enjoy the beauty around us at every moment, to never stagnate… well, then you might find yourself living for a very long time, and, ideally, prospering," said Shatner. "Or, in the absence of the longevity and self-defined prosperity you seek, you might well find meaning, or even better, happiness."
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