With inspirational over 50s hitting the headlines throughout 2012 - think Carmen Dell'Orefice gracing the catwalk at New York Fashion Week aged 81 and Hiroshi Hoketsu, 71, representing Japan in the Olympics - it has never been so fashionable to be in the autumn of life.

To make sure we get the most out of this new zest for later life, HuffPost 50 have pulled together seven key lessons from the past 12 months on living longer.

The research shows that simple changes to nutrition, fitness and sleep could add years to life.

Let us know your secrets to staying healthy in old age in the comments below

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  • It's Never Too Late To Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle

    An advanced age is no excuse to give up on healthy habits! A 2012 study showed that exercise, eating right and avoiding harmful habits like smoking <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/03/healthy-lifestyle-longevity-elderly-longer-life_n_1847316.html">helped people 75 or older live 5.4 years longer</a> than their less healthy-intentioned peers.

  • Exercise Really Works

    There's nothing new about the fact that exercise helps us live longer. But a recent study did take a closer look at just how powerful regular activity really is: The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/11/exercise-and-longevity-study_n_2280154.html">physically active benefit from several years added to their lives</a>. Black women in particular seem to benefit the most from regular exercise, HuffPost Black Voices reported. The study found that for every additional hour of exercise (like jogging or swimming) that a black woman gets, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/11/exercise-and-longevity-study_n_2280154.html">she can gain 11 hours of lifespan</a>.

  • Cook At Home

    A survey of Taiwan residents over the age of 65 found that those who cooked up to five times a week were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/cooking-longevity_n_1518466.html">47 percent more likely to still be alive 10 years later</a>. There are some limitations, of course -- the least healthy of participants wouldn't be able to cook or perform the errands associated with making meals at home <em>because</em> of their health -- but even after controlling for these factors and more, researchers found that something about simply cooking at home more frequently can extend your years.

  • Laugh More

    As part of an ongoing study on genes and aging, researchers found this year that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/optimism-longer-life-longevity-genes-personality_n_1553967.html">certain personality traits seem to be associated with a longer life</a>, including the propensity to laugh -- a lot!

  • Look At The Bright Side

    In the same study on aging, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/optimism-longer-life-longevity-genes-personality_n_1553967.html">optimism was also linked to living longer</a>. The 243 subjects over the age of 95 "<a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-05/aeco-gm052412.php">were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing</a>. They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up," study researcher Dr. Nir Barzilai, M.D., director of Einstein's Institute for Aging Research, said in a statement.

  • Supplements Can Help

    Adults in their 60s and 70s were 9 percent less likely to die over a three-year period <a href="http://www.myhealthnewsdaily.com/2725-vitamin-calcium-longevity.html">when they took vitamin D supplements with calcium</a>, compared to the elderly who went without either supplement. A number of other foods and nutrients have also been linked to a longer lifespan, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/20/foods-for-longevity_n_1612828.html#slide=1122877">including omega-3s</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/20/foods-for-longevity_n_1612828.html#slide=1122795"> certain antioxidants</a>.

  • We Know What To Do -- But We Rarely Do It All

    The most important behaviors for a long and healthy life aren't secrets -- they're things like not smoking, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. In fact, you may even be tired of hearing about them. But <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/7-heart-healthy-things-to_n_1364795.html">just a little more than 1 percent of American adults actually abide by these guidelines</a>, according to a 2012 study. People who do meet all the criteria? Well, they enjoy a 51 percent decreased risk of death from any cause.