We all want long, healthy and happy lives. For those who work out regularly, it’s a common reason that drives people to the gym. We think rationally, eat well and exercise so as to optimize our health, wellness and fitness. And we do all of this, simply to increase our longevity.
Along comes two professors from UC Riverside who brought together their twenty years of work on a brilliant EIGHT DECADE study in a new book, “The Longevity Project.” Professors Friedman and Martin are the authors. The science of longevity has been well published and this new book has some shocking findings that are important for those of us committed to improving our wellbeing and adding healthy years to our lives.
Here’s the single most important piece of advice the scientists offered: Throw Away Your Lists! That’s right, toss away the endless self-help resolutions about weight loss, increasing exercise, sleeping better, avoiding junk foods, and other health oriented lists. Those who live longest and healthiest, these researchers who looked at eight decades of research found, did not have tips and lists.
Instead, here’s what they did:
- They simply lived committed, meaningful lives.
- They worked hard.
- They achieved much for their families.
- They nurtured close relationships.
- They were persistent, responsible and successful.
- They were dedicated to things and people beyond themselves.
- They associated with healthy, active, involved people.
- They looked at new work assignments as opportunities to accomplish something worthwhile and started on their new tasks immediately—they did not see a greater workload as stressful.
- They were seen as conscientious, dependable, truthful, free of egotism, prudent and thrifty.
Interested in some of the myths the UC Riverside professors found?
- Take it easy and don’t work so hard and you will stay healthier
- Religious people live longer, so don’t miss any religious services.
- Thinking happy thoughts reduces stress and leads to long life. (Those who are healthier do tend to be happier and those who are happier do tend to be healthier, but not for simply thinking it.)
- Give your child a big head start in school and they will thrive for life.
- If you have hobbies like gardening, walking and cooking, you should take up more vigorous forms of exercise.
The authors of this very important book admit that the ability to predict health outcomes is limited on an individual basis. But if you want to find out if you specifically fit the profile of those who live long and healthy lives, the authors include many risk assessments and self-quizzes for you to identify patterns in your life that can lead to meaningful change.
You can take “tests” in the book that cover your “health-relevant” sense, how physically active you are on a scientific measure, how happy your marriage is, how healthy your job is for you, whether you are a “moody worrier” or a “gloomy Chicken Little,” and a host of other factors relevant to longevity. The tests are worth taking.
The book has received strong praise from Andrew Weil, MD, Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point), Publishers Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and many other scientists and health professionals, as well as, alas, Oprah. I give it all thumbs up and suggest it is a “must read” for serious health and fitness professionals, and anyone who wants the latest on longevity.