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Immortality Part IV: Misconceptions about What Makes us Live Longer

January 31, 2013

A recent BBC article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21186757) summarized some of the research that has been carried out on what makes people live longer. Are there things that we can do that will make us live longer? Are there certain types of people who tend to live longer?

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It turns out that a lot of things we believe about what makes us live longer are probably not true. One idea, for instance is that stress is not good for us and that if we relax and enjoy our retirement that will make us live longer.

A stress-free existence is often put forward as recipe for a long life, but a study by Dr Lewis Terman at Stanford University in 1921 refutes many commonly held beliefs about lifestyle and lifespan. It followed the lives of about 1,500 people from childhood to death and set out to match behavioural traits and actual life events with how individuals thrived in later years.

For the past two decades, the research has been updated by Howard Friedman, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Riverside.

“We looked at those people who were the most persistent, most hard-working, most involved, and achieved the most success, and often that was the most stress - those were the people who stayed healthier and lived the longest,” he explains.

“The people who said, ‘I don’t stress, I take it easy, I retire early,’ – those were the people who tended to die at a young age. That was really surprising and it goes against what a lot of advice that we hear.”

According to the BBC article, the maximum age most us can expect to reach is in the late 70s or early 80s. But stay tuned, perhaps a major medical discovery is just around the corner. In the meantime, don’t relax too much and stay engaged with tasks and with other people seems to be the best advice, along with eating well and not too much, and getting plenty of exercise.
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