A longevity study by Stanford University, conducted by Dr. Lewis Terman in 1921, chronicled the lives of 1,500 Californians to determine the contributing factors to human longevity. In 2011, they published the results disbarring a large number of common assumptions:
Myth: Optimism and Positive Thinking Extends Life
The Assumption: Cheerful and optimistic people were less likely to live to an old age than their more staid and sober counterparts.
The Reality: Pessimists say they’re in poor health and optimists may say they are in great health even when their health is equal.
Conclusion: Pessimism may not be bad for you.
Myth: Worrying is harmful
The Assumption: People who tend to worry excessively die younger.
The Reality: Female worry warts die younger than their relaxed counterparts. However this impact is nullified when women describe themselves as in control of their lives and have friends. Men who worried in their younger years are less likely to die than their counterparts. Older men who fret about their health and take better care of themselves.
The Conclusion: Worrying might be good for you if you are in control of your life and use worry to stay on top of issues.
Myth: Married people live longer
The Assumption: People live longer if they are married or are in long-term committed relationships
The Reality: Married men live longer than unmarried men, but but women see little or no longevity boost from marriage. Divorced women live almost as long as steadily married women. Men who divorce die younger.
The Conclusion: Marriage is good for men’s longevity. Divorce is bad. Marriage is neutral or not good for women’s longevity.
Myth: Vigorous Exercise Beats Slower Paced Activity
The Assumption: Hardcore intense exercise will extend your life
The Reality: Exercise is good for you, but excessive time consumed doing it in your youth will on gain you a few years of life.
Conclusion: Exercise if you like it. Don’t force yourself if you hate it. Find something you like to do and stick with it.
Myth: Religious people live longer
The Assumption: Religious people tend to live longer than those who aren’t religious
The Reality: Religious women live longer somewhat. Religious men not so much.
Conclusion: Religious women live a cleaner life because of their habits: Less booze, drugs, and smoking. The benefits of faith for men get erased or nullified by their families and their careers.
Myth: Workaholics die younger
The Assumption: Type A workaholics that work long hours and struggle to get ahead are likely to succumb to stress-related illnesses
The Reality: People who continue to work during their 70s, or are focused on other accomplishments, lived dramatically longer than those who take it easy.
The Conclusion: Stay mentally engaged as you age with activities that interest you and give you purpose
7. Pet owners live longer
The Assumption: People who own pets live longer.
The Reality: The Longevity Project reported that there is zero connection between frequency with which you play with your pet and your lifespan. It found there is no association between pet ownership and longevity.
The Conclusion: Pets can bring joy, but research suggests getting a pet solely for the health benefits is ill-advised.
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