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Genes only count for 1/4 to 1/3 of longevity


“‘Genes account for one-fourth to one-third of longevity,’ estimated
Howard Friedman, a professor of psychology at the University of
California (Riverside) and the coauthor of The Longevity Project,
published this year. ‘That leaves well over half not accounted for.’

Most of the rest, for better or worse, is up to you. ‘The importance
of choices people make is in so many ways responsible for the quality
of life in old age,’ said Charles Reynolds III, a professor of
geriatric psychiatry, neurology, and neuroscience at the University of
Pittsburgh medical school. ‘Many people think they should be entitled
to a good-quality 25 years after age 60. Well, they’re not necessarily
entitled, but they can put the odds in their favor.’

One way – “the least speculative and the most obvious’ – is with exercise, according
to Simon Melov, a Buck Institute biochemist. ‘More activity is better
than no activity, and most people are not doing anything. They’re just
sitting there.’ Exercise, he said, reduces the risk of cardiovascular
disease and perhaps even a decline in cognition. One needn’t run a
marathon. Gardening, walking, swimming, woodworking – all of these are
more active than just sitting.”

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