86-year-old cancer survivor kayaks on Lake Minnetonka every day possible

- We all want to know the secret to a long and healthy life; there are endless studies and articles on it. A local 86-year-old man from Excelsior has an interesting path to wellness.  

Kayaking nearly every day possible on Lake Minnetonka provides a lot of entertainment and important exercise for Tom Thiss.

"I call it my moving meditation," he said. "This morning we had a bald eagle. It sat up in a cottonwood tree right there and watched us."

This Monday will mark his 2,655th day kayaking on the lake. He hopes to reach 3,000 days in the next two years.

"If the water gets rough and I'm up to it, I'm totally focused and that's a wonderful thing,” Thiss said. "I decided when I got serious, 14 years ago, that I'd go out under all conditions."

Numbers tell a pretty interesting story about Thiss. A one-time aspiring doctor, he is somewhat data driven.

"The whole idea of self-improvement goes way back… I've kept a journal since 1983, 67 books,” he said. “I find one nice thing is if you know you're going to write something that night, you pay more attention to things you see during the day."

When he got prostate cancer in 1991, Thiss looked for ways beyond medicine to get better. So he also started yoga, and has been doing it for 25 years.

“If I look back on my life decisions, yoga was one of the best decisions I made."

He would chart some of his medical information on a daily basis. And his cancer has never come back.

“You have to have numbers if you're going to improve. How are you going to get better if you don't have a score?”

But the numbers aren't the whole story to his fountain of youth.  He spent his career teaching managers how to manage employees. And that's exactly how he's lived his life: with data and with an always open mind.

His mission to have good health is aided by exercise, but driven by personality.  So what’s the key to living a good long life?  “One thing I'd have to say is curiosity, that's very important.”

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