Over the years, average life expectancy has been increasing. Most people agree that this is a good thing and that they would want to live as long as possible – assuming quality of life stays on the same trajectory.
There are plenty of lifestyle habits that we can adopt in order to increase our chances of living longer and maintaining good health well beyond 90 years of age.
Dr. Claudia Kawas, a neurologist from the University of California in Irvine, conducted a long-term study, called the 90+ Study, on individuals between the ages of 90 and 99, also referred to as nonagenarians. Beginning in 2003, she looked at 1700 nonagenarians, their daily lifestyle habits, and how they relate to longevity.
When comparing daily alcohol intake with daily exercise habits, the neurologist concluded that the individuals who drank approximately two alcoholic drinks – beer or wine – per day were 18 percent less likely to experience a premature death. Individuals who exercised for 15 to 45 minutes daily decreased their risk of premature death by 11 percent. In addition, those who drank two cups of coffee per day decreased their risk of death by 10 percent. She was as surprised as the rest of us to find these results, but she now believes that moderate alcohol consumption improves longevity.
She also found that weight was another predictor of longevity. The participants in her study who were slightly overweight decreased their risk of early death by 3 percent. She stated, “It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young, but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old.”
Another interesting finding to add was that individuals who spent two hours on average per day on a hobby that they were interested in decreased their risk of dying prematurely by 21 percent.
Based on this study, can we conclude that happiness and enjoyment have the most impact of all? I’ll leave that to you to decide. While it’s a nice thought, we need to conduct more research into the topic and more studies to see how genetics are related to these findings. Still, this is an interesting way to look at our lifestyle habits and our priorities as we age.