Most of us know at least one guy or gal who does “all the wrong things” but who is still sharp as a whip and going strong in their 80s, 90’s and even beyond.
It’s those folks who inspired University of California neurologist Claudia Kawas and her fellow researchers to try to figure out what role our daily habits play on our longevity. And what they discovered in their 90+ Study is bound to rattle more than a few cages.1
According to their findings, folks who live longer tend to have a few so-called “bad” habits in common.
The ongoing study, launched in 2003, has surveyed 1700 older seniors who were at least 90 years old. The researchers gather information on their diets, what meds they are taking, their physical activities and medical histories.
Study finds wine and beer drinkers live longer
Every six months the volunteers take a variety of different tests to measure their neurological, physical and cognitive health.
It turns out folks who drink about two glasses of beer or wine a day are 18 percent less likely to die prematurely than the teetotalers are.
That doesn’t mean you should take up a drink or two a day habit, of course. But if you already do enjoy a glass or two with dinner, you can now do it guilt free.
Alcohol use wasn’t the only surprising finding, either.
Some folks with “bad” habits appear to live longer
Volunteers, who were slightly overweight in their 70s, but not obese, enjoyed a three percent lower risk of leaving this Earth too early when compared to folks who were normal or below weight.
And one finding which probably won’t surprise you if you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader is that two-cup-a-day coffee drinkers have a 10 percent lower risk of early death. In other words, our favorite “bad” habit was once again linked to living longer.
But it isn’t only so-called “bad” behaviors which appear to improve longevity, either.
The folks who exercised 15 to 45 minutes daily reduced their early death risk by 11 percent. And another habit we’ve encouraged you to pick up many times before had a huge impact.
The seniors who spent two hours a day engaged in a hobby were an incredible 21 percent less likely to die early.
Don’t just live LONGER live BETTER too
But you don’t just want to live longer you want to live better, of course. So make sure those hobbies force you to use your brain too. Because the more they engage your brain, the better off your cognitive skills will stay according to other research.
A large scale trial conducted at the University of Exeter Medical School and Kings College London found that folks who regularly play word games, such as crosswords, have an advantage in the thinking department.2
They performed significantly better on cognitive tests that measure reasoning, attention and memory. In fact, according to the researchers the puzzle fans had essentially shaved 10 years off their brain age.
Engage your brain to stay as sharp as a tack
And a study published in JAMA Neurology found seniors over 70 who regularly challenge their brains could head off the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) that can sneak up on us as we age.3
Engage your brain by using a computer at least two to three at three times a week and your risk for cognitive impairment could plummet 30 percent. (You’re welcome.) Regular crafters were 28 percent likely to suffer from MCI. And social butterflies who spent time with friends and family slashed their risk 23 percent.
Folks who stay active, and engaged, well into their 90s have a lot they can teach us. It’s time we listen.
Many so-called “bad” habits aren’t so bad after all. It appears that moderation, as usual, is the key. After all quantity without quality is useless.
1. “The 90+ Study finds link between moderate Alcohol Consumption and Longevity,” Findings presented at the annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference, February 2018, Press Release, UCI Mind, 90+ Study, February 21, 2018
2. “Daily crosswords linked to sharper brain in later life,” University of Exeter Medical School, “The Relationship Between the Frequency of Word Puzzle Use and Cognitive Function in a Large Sample of Adults Aged 50 to 96 Years,” presented at AAIC on Monday, July 17, 2017: 9:30AM – 4:15PM
3. “Association Between Mentally Stimulating Activities in Late Life and the Outcome of Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment, With an Analysis of the APOE ε4 Genotype,” JAMA Neurol. Published online January 30, 2017
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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