Happy Birthday, Prudence

Surprising Factors Influence Lifespan

Remember when the Earth was flat? Here we go again... Surprising findings published recently by researchers at the University of California have challenged some of our conventional beliefs about what factors contribute to a longer lifespan.

The study tracked the survivorship of 1,500 individuals who were first evaluated as children in 1921. They found that, contrary to popular belief, the children that were cheerful and funny tended to live shorter lives than their more serious cohorts. The authors posited that this finding was due to the fact that the children that were happier took more health risks, whereas the children that practiced "prudence and persistence" tended to be healthier. Finally, the hypochondriac weirdo in the back of class has his comeuppance! Congrats if you're reading this, germaphobes.

Some other interesting results from the study include:

- Starting first grade before the age of six was a risk factor for early mortality. Please note, Manhattan Scary Moms.
- Playing with pets had no impact on longevity.
- "Don't work too hard, don't stress" is not good advice for long life. Continually productive people lived much longer than those who were more laid-back. Guess if ya got time to lean, ya got time to clean.
- Veterans of combat had a shorter lifespan due to their health habits once they returned from battle. The authors suggest that it is important to rebuild oneself after a traumatic experience in order to return to a healthy lifestyle.
- Marriage was found to be good for men's health--men who were in long-term marriages were likely to live to age 70 and beyond, whereas divorced men and never-married men were not found to have the same longevity.
- Getting out of a long-term marriage was found to be less harmful for women's health; women who were divorced and remained unmarried had approximately the same life expectancy as women who remained in a marriage. What a shock that men live longer when married. Surely doing laundry and cleaning shower grout will take at least a year off your life--things that married men often seem to neglect.

Source: University of California - Riverside (2011, March 12). Keys to long life? Not what you might expect. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311153541.htm


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Erena DiGonis commented
Great study! I work in many senior centers all over NY and am fascinated by longevity. I see people in their 80s and 90s that remind me of teenagers. The "girls" have lunch and attend the Zumba class. Not only has it inspired me but changed the notion of what getting older means.
JaneJ commented
This is thought-probing. My initial takeaway is women are thoroughly more resilient than men. haha. I'd like to hear more about what the correlation between attitude and general outlook and long life is.