This 50 Plus.com article by Cynthia Ross Cravit provides a good snap-shot view of what makes us live longer. The study cited relates specifically to men, but it would seem intuitive enough that it would also apply equally to women....
Attention all men: if you want to live into your 80s and beyond, here are nine things you need to know.
Get a grip – and a good education. Get married. Don't gain weight.
These are some of the keys to long life for boomer men, says a new study.
In fact, nine factors in all were identified as good predictors of which 50-plus men would live healthily into their 80s and beyond, according to a 40-year study of nearly 6,000 Japanese-American men living in Hawaii. The study, published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded men were more likely to remain healthy, vigorous and disability-free at older ages, if they avoided certain risk factors.
The ability to avoid these 9 major risk factors in midlife— in particular those linked to insulin levels such as overweight, high blood sugar, high triglycerides (a type of cholesterol) and high blood
pressure— is a strong indicator of whether you will survive to old age and if you do, whether you will be healthy.
9 Predictors of long life
Men who meet the following criteria are more likely to live longer, according to the study:
• Are married
• Are not overweight
• Have low blood pressure
• Possess a strong grip (indicating overall strength and fitness)
• Have attained a high level of education
• Have low blood sugar
• Avoid heavy drinking
• Do not smoke
• Have a low level of bad cholesterol.
The study, known as the Hawaii Lifespan Study, followed the health of participants for up to 40 years to assess overall, healthy, or “exceptional survival”. The men in the study, who had an average age of 54 when the research began back in 1965, were given a baseline exam at the time and found to be free of illness and functional impairments.
As reported by Reuters, men who followed the healthful criteria had an 80 per cent chance of living to age 80 and were more likely to avoid illness. 42 per cent of the participants lived until 85, with 11 per cent reaching the age without serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
“Your chances were more than 60 per cent of being healthy at that age if you avoided these risk factors, yet if you had six or more of these risk factors you had less than a 10 per cent chance of living in your mid-80s,” said study author Dr. Bradley Wilcox of Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu.
This is further proof “that it is important to be physically robust in midlife… consistent with theories of aging that suggest that better built organisms last longer,” the study concluded.