People are always telling you that you need to “embrace failure” and remember that “you don’t fail. You learn.” I doubt I’m the only person who finds that really tough advice to follow. Failing hurts. I’ve asked friends and experts who are better at this than me for advice, and they’ve provided some great strategies, like starting out with what you’ll learn if you fail in mind. But I can’t always crack it.

The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Greg Presto.

Greg Presto is a health and fitness journalist, and the author of The Workout Bucket List: Over 300 Life-Changing Races, Epic Challenges, and Incredible Hikes, Bikes, Lifts, and Runs around the World, in Your Gym, or Right in Your Living Room. The book is available now on Amazon,, at Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold. Greg’s work has appeared in Men’s Health, Women’s Health,,, USA Today, and many other publications and websites.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I’ve been covering health, fitness, and sports as a reporter and video journalist for almost 20 years. But my first real forays into making sure fitness is FUN started when I was an editor at in 2007. While filming a daily video series called “The Men’s Health Minute,” we read an interview with then-NFL Draft prospect D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He was an offensive lineman at Virginia (and went on to play for 9 years in the NFL), and he’d been pushing a Cadillac Escalade around a parking lot to train for the NFL combine. We just had to try it. So we filmed a video about it, and it was a blast. The same day, we filmed a video with tips from a boxing trainer on doing jump rope tricks like you were living a Rocky movie montage. At the end of filming, I thought, “this is how every workout should be!” So I started dedicating myself to infusing a little fun into all the workout content I reported and created.

I’ve carried that with me throughout my career — as a freelancer for publications like Shape and Livestrong, as a video producer with USA Today Sports, and finally in writing the Workout Bucket List. Giving people the chance to inject some fun and adventure into their workouts while still reaping all the health and wellness benefits of a good sweat session — to me, it’s essential.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

In 2016, while living in Kenya, I had the chance to video and interview members of the Refugee Olympic Team as they prepared for the Rio Summer Games. These runners were refugees from South Sudan. They had grown up in war, and had fled to a Kenyan refugee camp, where they’d lived most of their lives so far. They had faced — and continued to face — far more serious issues than sports or athletics could offer, but sports and athletics still meant a ton to them. They dreamed of competing, of seeing the world, of making their families — and their fellow refugees — proud. And they just wanted to win, even if it was just their heat.

The lesson I took away: Sports matter. Athletics matter. Sometimes, it feels like working on health, fitness, and sports isn’t serious enough for all the things going on in the world, and that I should be doing something “more serious” with my time. But when I met these athletes, or when someone reaches out to say they were inspired to try a new event, or I speak with someone who has changed their life through exercise, or even just when I meet a huge sports fan, I’m reminded that this work has meaning, it’s worth doing, and I need to continue to give it my all.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve been fortunate to have mentors, leaders, and colleagues that have pushed and guided me throughout my career — so I’m lucky enough that it’s hard to choose just one here!

One person who absolutely helped me turn the Workout Bucket List from an idea into reality — and a person I thank in the acknowledgments — is Steve Madden. He’s a content executive, a former editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine, the author of the CrossFit memoir Embrace the Suck, and an incredibly honest, creative guy who has put his faith in me many times over the years. Steve’s advice helped me believe I could find representation with an agent, and helped me hone the concept of The Workout Bucket List to focus on the audience.

But there’s another story about Steve that really helped my confidence. He called me once because he was working with a new client on some creative video and article content, and told me that he’d told them, “we need a guy like Greg Presto for this project.” It gave me such an incredible boost: Someone I really respected thought that I could bring something special to a project, and showed their confidence in and respect for me.

When you give someone a compliment like that — and tell them you trust them with your own reputation — you may not realize the impact it can have on someone. But for me, that was huge, and I’ll always be grateful.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

That’s kind of you to say! I don’t think of myself as a leader, particularly. I’ve been lucky to be part of some great teams, and I try to be the best and most productive teammate I can be.

The first trait that I try to bring — if you can call it a trait — is an attitude that my opinion doesn’t matter. When I’m reporting a story, working on a section of a book, or producing a video, the audience’s opinion — and whether it’s useful to them — matters. The opinions of experts who know much more than me — that matters. I want to elevate those experts’ voices and provide information and entertainment that’s useful to the audience.

In the case of The Workout Bucket List, this meant making sure that when I included a race to run, and event to enter, or a workout to try, I either tried it myself to have some expertise on it, or I consulted with an expert or audience member who could speak to it. So while I hadn’t run with the bulls in Pamplona, I spoke with a former colleague who had to get an insider’s view on when to arrive, where to stand, and how to run safely — for example, if the bulls slide, they slide to the outside of turns, so staying on the inside could keep you safe.

The next trait that I try to bring as a teammate is a willingness to say yes, especially in the context of “yes, we can do that.” Can we create the shot or the graphic? Can we find a source who can speak about the issue or experience we’re exploring? To me, it’s part enthusiasm, and part confidence that the answers are out there — in this incredible era of the internet, YouTube tutorials, and so much information. We just have to look hard enough … or be creative enough to create an alternative.

I’ll give you an example: When I was producing videos for USA Today Sports for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, we were challenged to do something about the experience of the biathlon, a sport that alternates cross-country skiing with target shooting. We wanted to put one of the reporters or editors in a similar situation, but there wasn’t a biathlon venue within hundreds of miles. But we committed to saying yes, and we got creative: We bought a Nordic Track, and took it to a shooting range. The reporter took some test shots, then rode the Nordic Track, and we tested how it changed his ability to shoot — and asked him to describe the experience. It made a great video that the audience connected with and reacted to, and we accomplished the goal in our own way.

Last trait, and it’s related to why I try to be a teammate: I trust the expertise of the people around me, and I try to learn from it. One amazing thing you experience when producing videos in teams is that everyone around you has great talent and knowledge — lots of which you don’t have yet. Letting the people I’m “leading” — whether they’re young camera people I’ve hired or interns at an office — get their ideas into the shoot makes the product better. It’s another reminder that my opinion doesn’t matter — making the best work that’s useful to the audience does.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

My career has been all about translating evidence-based and expert-backed health and fitness information into actionable steps that people can use in their real lives. I get incredible opportunities to pick the brains of some of the most brilliant and innovative minds in health and fitness — from directors of kinesiology at major universities to world record-setting athletes to people who have trained the world’s biggest stars and successes. And then it’s my job to help turn that into information that fits into the lives of regular people, so they can apply that knowledge in the midst of their busy lives — after they’ve taken care of their work, errands, chores, kids, and other responsibilities.

What makes me unique in this space, though, is that I try to infuse as many of the articles I write and videos I produce with some fun to help build enthusiasm for working out. As long as you’re not getting hurt, just about every type of exercise is going to help you fight cardiovascular disease and cancer, and help you live longer. So every workout has a compelling “why” built right in. But you can get all those benefits while also boosting your spirit, exciting your mind, or adding a little adventure to your day. So instead of just going for a jog, you might go for the exact run that Bill Clinton used to do in Washington, DC, with his Secret Service agents. Or instead of just doing some crunches and planks, you might try the ab workout of a Cirque du Soleil performer or America’s best table tennis player.

These types of workouts give you all those health and longevity benefits, but they’re also part of the story we tell ourselves about ourselves — and help make that longer life one we’re excited about and excited to share.

Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.

Yes, and it continues to — that’s what The Workout Bucket List is all about! It’s given me the opportunity to talk to incredible people, like a 35-year old realtor and mom who qualified for the Olympics, bodybuilding firefighters, an ultramarathon-running ski patroller, world record holders in burpees, planks, strongman events, and tons more. It’s given me the opportunity to try the workouts of WWE superstars, NFL hall of famers, U.S. presidents from history, and the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. And it’s taken me to tons of events and outdoor locations, from the half-mile staircase of the Manitou Incline in Colorado to the bubbling lava crater of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

One story I’ll share here is about my experience filming with the marathoners of Kenya in their “home of champions,” a town called Iten. I went there in 2016 to meet with the runners and produce an explainer video on the science behind their success — why are Kenyan marathoners so fast, anyway? The answer, of course, is not so simple: It’s the altitude where they live and train, their genetics, and the aerobic base they build over years and years of running to and from school. And that’s the part we can learn from it: You can’t control your genetics, or if you grow up at a medium altitude. But these champions build up their aerobic base — and keep building it — with lots of slow (well, slow to them) mileage over long periods of time. The 80–20 rule that you may see bandied about with endurance training that says that 80 percent of your workouts should be on the easier side … they’re living that. And then the 20 percent of their work that’s speed workouts — like one I included in the book, from a masters champion — are on the decidedly not easy side.

Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)

The best workout tip I can share is to sleep. Sleep is the ultimate supplement, the ultimate health and longevity aid, and it’s one we often ignore. Lots of studies have found a correlation between adequate sleep — not too little, not too much — and longevity. In one research review from 2010 of studies covering more than 1 million people, scientists found that 7 hours was the sweet spot. That matches with a 2002 study on the same topic. So: Aim for 7–8 hours of sleep per night, every night.

Next: Eat 3–4 cups of vegetables each day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 10 percent of Americans get their daily servings of vegetables. But if you do so, you’ll live longer: In one study of more than 130,000 people, those who ate three or four servings of vegetables per day had the lowest rates of early death. Three to four cups sounds like a lot, but it isn’t — it’s one salad. Have a salad with one meal per day, or a big side of broccoli with dinner, and you’ve packed in those live-saving veggies.

Do some pushups every day. Huge studies have found that doing 30–60 minutes of strength training per week is associated with longer life. That’s just 5–10 minutes per day. I call out pushups here because of another study: When scientists looked at 1,000 firefighters, those who could do 40 pushups in a row were more than 90% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease over the following 10 years than another group that could do fewer than 10 pushups. So do a little every day, and build up to 40 over time!

Walk 2,000 steps in 20 minutes, every day. In a review of 38 studies, scientists found that walking 100 steps per minute was fast enough to significantly reduce disease risk. And if you do 20 minutes at that pace each day, you’ll just about reach the CDC’s guideline of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, which is associated with a longer, healthier life. Make it a game! See how quickly you can walk to and from the same spot. Put on a playlist of your favorite songs, and speed up during the chorus while walking a little slower during the verses. Or do the same on a treadmill while watching a show or sporting event — fast during the commercials, and slightly slower during the show itself.

Number five: Connect with others in real life. This can be really hard today — friends and family are busy with kids, their jobs, and other responsibilities. Some people even fetishize skipping out on plans. So getting together with others can take some work. But it’s worth it — it’s fun and will help you flourish, and also may help you live longer. A review of 148 studies found that strong social relationships is associated with longer life. This, to me, is a spot where fitness really comes in handy: Get together with someone for a walk, sign up for a race together, or look on Facebook or another social media site for a local run club or workout group — your local area most likely has a Hash House Harriers group, which is a social running club, or a November Project group, who get together each week for outdoor workouts.

Can you suggest a few things needed to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning?

I’ve got a big one: Gratitude. Numerous studies have linked being grateful with being happier and more satisfied with their lives — here’s a super-readable white paper on it from UC Berkeley.

This might not work for everyone, but it works for me: I start and end my work day with a little bit of gratitude, my mood soars, even when things are stressful. After I pour my morning coffee, I set a timer on my phone for 3 minutes, and fill that time listing things I’m grateful for. I usually start small — like being grateful for my coffee — and then expand outward. I’ll tell myself I’m grateful for my wife, and then list a few reasons why. I’ll be grateful for the specific work I have to do that day, and why — it might challenge me creatively, or give me an opportunity to talk to someone really cool, or let me create work that inspires someone, or even just show my clients that I’m worthy of the trust they’ve put in me. I expand as much as I can in three minutes, and then I get started. I feel so much better and more focused if I do this.

At the end of the day, I try to do the “What Went Well” exercise. I’m not sure of the origin of this, but I learned it from Martin Seligman’s book, “Flourish.” Seligman is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the pioneers of positive psychology. The exercise is simple: You list any three things that went well that day — I might have gone for a walk at lunch with my wife, had a good interview with a subject, or sent off a story pitch I’d been thinking about. And then you outline why those things happened or went well. It could be something you did — such as an interview going well because I prepared some interesting questions — or something another person did, such as the interviewee being enthusiastic and knowledgeable as we spoke. Big, cool stuff happens every so often, but everyday moments — and how I feel about them — ARE my life. So I try to find ways to celebrate and be grateful for the good ones.

Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?

My mother, who was a high school guidance counselor, will be proud to hear me say this: Your behavior is the only thing that’s fully in your control.

I can’t control that heart disease and cancer run in my family. My father had bypass surgery in his 50s, his father died of a heart attack in his 40s, and I was diagnosed with familial hypocholesterolemia — which results in unusually high cholesterol levels — at the age of 7. My mother had cancer in her 50s. None of that is in my control. But how I behave — whether I exercise or not, the type of diet I eat, and whether I keep up with physicals and other medical appointments — is within my control.

Honestly, though, that’s not even why I exercise! It’s not why I sign up for races, plan mountain climbs with friends, or take on big challenges like trying to dunk or running around the perimeter of my city. I’m not particularly worried about living a long life, as long as it’s a life that I’m excited about. It just so happens that the things I’ve come to enjoy should help me live longer and fight off disease.

That, to me, is the whole key to making working out a habit, and it’s why I wrote The Workout Bucket List. Lots of studies have shown that any kind of strength-promoting exercise, and many types and intensities of cardio, will help you live longer. That is, exercise always comes with a compelling “why.” But you’re more likely to stick to those modes if you find one you enjoy. So find a way of exercising that really gets you excited, and you’ve found a compelling “what,” which I think is the real key to longevity in the gym, on the track, or out in the world.

Returning to your question on nature versus nurture: I don’t know which is more important. My goal is to know my nature, but control my nurture.

Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?

People are always telling you that you need to “embrace failure” and remember that “you don’t fail. You learn.” I doubt I’m the only person who finds that really tough advice to follow. Failing hurts. I’ve asked friends and experts who are better at this than me for advice, and they’ve provided some great strategies, like starting out with what you’ll learn if you fail in mind. But I can’t always crack it.

So here’s what I do: I let myself feel bad for a bit. I do my best not to let it spill over into my relationships or my overall mood, but I give myself some time to sort of lick my psychological wounds. This may not work for everyone, but it’s how I’ve learned — and continue to learn — to deal with not hitting a target. And then I figure out the next thing I’m going to do, whether it’s to try to undo or out-do that failure, or strike off in a new direction. The only play that matters, ultimately, is the next one. So I try to make the next one better.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I’m a sucker for Theodore Roosevelt quotes. My favorite “life lesson” quote from TR is “Life Is a great adventure. Accept it in such a spirit.” There’s a similar quote from Helen Keller that says “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Every day can be an adventure — we just have to choose to accept the challenge of making it that way. I’ve chosen to do a lot of that through my workouts, and that’s what inspired The Workout Bucket List: On days when I do one of these challenges, I’m not just lifting … I’m doing the lifting workout of an NFL athlete, a world champion natural bodybuilder, or an American hero like Noah Galloway, who lost two limbs serving his country. I’m not just running — I’m running to as many statues around my city as I can on the way to do stair work on the same stes featured in The Exorcist, or I’m running (a much slower version of) Roger Bannister’s workout that he did on the way to the first four-minute mile.

But anything can be that daily adventure: It could be just going to a place you’ve never been before, cooking a dish from history — or one you saw on The Great British Baking Show — or even reaching out to someone you admire with a note to see if they’ll email with you or meet for coffee. Adventure is out there, if I can be brave enough to accept it.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d love to help people create big, physical goals for themselves — to climb a mountain they’ve always dreamed of summitting, run a certain pace, dunk a basketball — and then not just achieve them, but document it so they can share their stories. Other animals use tools, but only people can tell these types of big, elaborate stories — it’s what makes us human! Helping people come up with a big dream, achieve it, and share that story — to inspire others to do the same? That would be huge.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

Find me on Instagram at @likethemagicword, on Twitter @gregpresto, or on Facebook at

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.


  • Savio Clemente

    Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Media Journalist, #1 Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor

    The Human Resolve LLC

    Savio P. Clemente is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), media journalist, #1 best-selling author, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLCHe coaches cancer survivors and ambitious industry leaders to amplify their impact, attract media attention, and make their voice heard. He inspires them to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit and to cultivate resilience in their mindset.

    Savio has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad.  His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.