Family, faith, and fitness: Dr. Bruce Longman, DDS shares his secrets for living a healthy life

by | Jul 14, 2022 | Trending News

Dr. Bruce Longman, DDS.

Dr. Bruce Longman, DDS (Virginia Commonwealth University, 1960) folds his long, lean figure into a chair to talk about fitness, his career, and having a huge and loving family.

Right on the cusp of his 88th birthday, Longman is a practicing dentist whose early career began in 1960 in the military as a dentist stationed at the Air Force base in Orlando, Fla. and for many years had a private practice. He also worked at Sentara and CHKD for 47 years as “probably one of the only general dentists in the city who did hospital care.”

In 2018, Longman joined the Foleck Center (with offices in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Hampton). “I decided some time ago when you’re the boss and CEO and CFO you are required to handle the fiduciary responsibilities and after doing it 40-plus years, that’s the part I wanted to eliminate.”

Today, Longman says he sees a lot of patients who have problems with their teeth because they couldn’t get to a dentist during the pandemic. Then, there’s the stress of it all, which is causing dental issues as well. “My colleagues and I have probably seen more fractured teeth in the last two years than ever before. We all agree that this is due to clenching.”

Besides his work, he sees or speaks to his family often: Longman has five children (four daughters and one son), 18 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. They are spread out all over the world—in places like China, Berlin, and Israel, as well as the U.S. He tries to read a book a week (the latest, Dr. Mengele’s Assistant, was “an in-depth and emotional book”).

Longman embraces a healthy lifestyle that includes fitness and good nutrition. “I did weightlifting in college, then got away from exercise. I only walked. When I was in the service, I went in too heavy; I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now.” After a few experiences of not being mentally alert after lunch, he decided he was eating too much. “I cut out my large lunches that were available at the hospital cafeteria. They were probably 2,000 calories, which made me sleepy, and I couldn’t operate that way. Once I did, I started losing weight and went from a size 42 to 36. I found it was a happier weight for me.” The foods that work for him are mostly fruits and veggies, and proteins like egg whites, chicken, or fish. “If I still wanted dessert, I’d have bread with some of our homemade canned jams we make. I have large fig trees in the backyard, peaches when we pick them up in North Carolina, and last year I bought a lot of Bing cherries and made Bing cherry jam. I used all of it up and I’m waiting for them to show up again.”

In years past, his workouts would consist of running on a track and playing volleyball, handball, and racquetball. “When I started seeing my hands being bruised and my fingers being injured, I couldn’t take that risk anymore. I laid off those injury-prone exercises and went to aerobics and weightlifting machines. Then I went jogging outside. I got my first pair of running shoes from mail order—they were New Balance—and I used to get up early in the morning. People were honking their horns at me. Jogging was a new thing then. Now, I do aerobics at the Simon Family JCC gym, free weights, elastic weights, calisthenics, the step machine, the recumbent bike, and yoga.”

In fact, Longman completed the JCC’s Ironman Challenge that took place during February and March. The eight-week indoor Ironman challenge included 2.4 miles rower/swim, 112 miles on the bike and 26.2-mile run/walk.

According to Tom Purcell, wellness director at the Simon Family JCC, “Dr. Bruce has participated in several of my wellness challenges and we often talk about the importance of wellness to sustain quality of life. He understands the body very well and has varied his routine to create a balanced program that allows him to stay healthy.

“Our senior population is the first to have this ability to use exercise as a health care plan and to live an independent life as they age.”

Longman has been a member of Ohef Sholom Temple for many years and has served in multiple positions, including as a board member of the Temple’s Foundation and as president of the Men’s Club. “I was president under multiple rabbis,” he says. “I’ve also served as president of the Brith Sholom Fraternal Organization and I’m still on that board. I work as the treasurer for the Town Foundation, a philanthropic organization that gets scholarships for local schools like JMU, Old Dominion Nursing, TCC, and Norfolk State University.”

Longman says the secret to a good life is being happy in your profession, having a loving family nearby or just a phone call away, and not eating past 6 pm. His advice? “Keep a schedule, keep a little day job, and don’t let the government make you ‘retire’ just because they’re going to send you a Social Security check. One of my friends comments that ‘the word retirement is not in the Bible.’ And I’ll end with that.”

-Debbie Burke