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The Secret to a Long Life
The Secret to a Long Life
02/15/2012

A study known as "The Longevity Project," concluded conscientiousness was the best childhood personality predictor of longevity.  It appears by being prudent, persistent and well-organized, you increase your life span.  Their conclusions came from 10 million pieces of data collected by generations of researchers at Stanford University starting in 1921.

Cheerfulness and having a socialable personality were relevant, but the prudent, dependable children lived the longest.  Such people were more likely to obey the rules, (that is take care of their health), and not engage in risky behaviors such as smoking They are the types who take every dose of medicine their doctor prescribes.  I've got a funny story about that...I had a painful shoulder at one point --  myofascial disorder, and it  took me 3 years to resolve it. .   The physical therapist said, "Do these 5 stretches, 10 times apiece, 3 times a day."  So I went home and did it exactly the way he said.  I came back the next week and said, "The pain is worse."  And he said, "Well, did you do your stretches?"  And I said, "Yes.  I did each one of them exactly the way you told me to do it."  He looks at me like I'm nuts and says, "You weren't supposed to do that."  "What the hell do you mean I'm not supposed to do that?  It's what you told me to do."  And he goes, "I always over-tell because most people don't follow my directions and do about half, maybe.  So you over-stretched and hurt yourself."  I wanted to kill him...but it did bring up my personality trait because once you tell me to do it, it's going to happen. 

Once I'd read this, I decided to look into other research that tries to pinpoint what  makes people live longer.  And a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health says daily shopping trips were associated with increased survival.  Elderly people who shopped every day had a 27% lower risk of death than the least frequent shoppers.  This finding was adjusted for a host of variables, by the way. Men who shopped daily were 28% less likely to die, compared with a 23% reduced risk for women, and it didn't seem to be correlated with whether or not you bought anything. 

Elderly people may window shop, obtain prescribed drugs, bank, walk for exercise, seek companionship, and avoid loneliness.  Fulfillment of these purposes may generate various health benefits.  At least they're off the couch, walking around.  Buying something isn't the main point.  It's the getting out there, being social, walking around and looking at things. 

People over 90 years old were asked in one study "What is the secret to long life?"
Herbert, who's 91, said, "I attribute it to a good marriage and luck." [Laughs] Yeah, there's a little bit of luck in there.  But the good marriage is more important:  men who lose their spouses die a lot younger than they would have.  Women are a guy's basic moral support in life.  (When my husband had his cardiac frenzies the doctor told him point-blank, "It's because of your wife that you're still alive.  She nags and nudges and makes you do stuff...get out and walk, get out and do this..."  Yeah, guys left to their own sort of sink.  We're very necessary, ladies.)

Ruth, who's 97, says, "I've always been active.  I hiked 2 miles a day into my 80s and I've always swum."

Esther, who's 96, "I've stayed active..." (You realize how articulate they are -- I mean, their brains are in gear). "I have stayed active all my life.  I bowled until I was 80 and I worked in my husband's business until I was 85."

Eugene, who's 90 said, "I was never a carouser.  I do drink but not in excess."

Last, but not least, is 93 year old Gerta, "It's best not to have too many worries." 

Well, as we know from the current research, that's not true.  People who have things to worry about and problems, therefore, to solve are keeping their brains very active and are "chewing" through life rather than "bobbing through life like a cork", or standing there, looking like they just got electrocuted.  So, everything has it's moderation point, I guess.  And (according to all of this list) I am going to be immortal without being a vampire.  How cool is that?

Tags: Health, Marriage
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