What’s the secret to living to 90 years old and beyond? You might think that it’s eating salads, doing a daily downward facing dog or saying no to a glass of wine at a dinner party.
However, new research has found that ‘super agers’ (people who live beyond 90) drink alcohol daily, put on a little weight and enjoy a morning Americano.
Dr Claudia Kawas of the University of California has pinned the secret to living longer down to five lifestyle factors: exercising, having hobbies, drinking a couple glasses of wine or beer a day, being slightly overweight, and drinking coffee.
Dr Kawas said, “I almost think we should stop doing research and just start using our bodies and brains more.
“These people are inspiring – they drink wine, drink coffee, gain weight, but they exercise and use their brains. Maybe that can tell us something.”
Having analyzed data from the ‘90+’ study, Dr Kawas found that the following reduced the risk of premature death:
• Spending 15 minutes of exercise a day: -11%
• Drinking two glasses of wine or a day: -18%
• Drinking two cups coffee a day: -10%
• Spending two hours on hobbies a day: -21%
• Having an overweight BMI: -3%
“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” said Dr Kawas
If you don’t think carrying some extra weight can be good for you, this ongoing study has shown that being overweight has a negative effect until 80 – but after that it gives you a 3% reduction in the chance of dying. Futhermore, being underweight after 80 increases mortality rates by half.“As you age your body tries to put weight on. This is different to saying obesity is a good thing.
“But maybe as you get to 60 or 70 physiologically it’s a good thing to gain weight. The best mortality experience is to gain between five and 10 pounds per decade.
“Underweight people had a 50% increase in mortality. It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old,” says Dr Kawas
It’s also important to keep your brain active. By getting outside or engaging with a hobby like crosswords or volunteer groups, you are more likely to live longer.
Prof Kawas said: “The more people outside of your own household you speak to any given month will lower your risk [of dying].
“The benefit was using your brain. People think using your brain is solving a puzzle, but when you are just getting out and interacting with people, you are using your brain a lot, particularly with people you are not living with.
“I think you get lazy with people you are living with. The number of times people get out of the house and interact with people outside of their family, that’s cognitive exercise and I think it’s no different from physical exercise.
“If you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s easier to keep it and harder to get it back.
This study just proves what we’ve always known: everything in moderation.
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