The keys to living beyond 90

Daniel Dumas

| 3 min read

My grandfather, Jessie McCurtis, was a World War II veteran and Chrysler retiree, with 14 children. Before having his mobility limited by health complications in his 80s, granddad Jessie led a very active lifestyle throughout his 60s and 70s. When he was 74, he built a shed in his backyard, the same shed we host family gatherings in today.
Granddad Jessie left us two years ago at the ripe age of 91, but not before sharing with his family the secrets to longevity, many of which were revealed in a recent study highlighted by CBS.
Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes interviewed five people over the age of 90 who participated in the “90+ Study,” a groundbreaking research experiment created by Dr. Claudia Kawas in 2003. Dr. Kawas was inspired to start this research after discovering data collected from a 1981 study that surveyed 14,000 elderly people living in a retirement community, known for the liveliness and active culture.
Dr. Kawas caught up with many of the living participants, to find out what factors help people live to the age of 90 and beyond. The results may shock you, and if you’re looking to increase your odds of living well into your golden years, here are some suggestions.
  • Gain weight: Try not to get skinny when you’re old, you hear people joke about not wanting to get, “old and fat”, but it could be one of the more beneficial tools for living longer. Reaching obesity is never good, but according to the study, participants who were overweight, or maintained their weight through their 70s, lived longer than those who were underweight.
  • Drink alcohol moderately: Before you clear out the wine cellar consider this, based on the study’s results, participants who drank alcohol moderately outlived those who abstained. The research suggests two drinks per day led to a 10-15% reduction in the risk of death, compared to non-drinkers.
  • Exercise daily: An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but 15 minutes of exercise a day could add time to your lifespan. According to the research, those who made exercise and social activities apart of their daily regimen lived longer than those who didn’t. Most of the participants were known to perform 15 minutes of exercise a day in the form of walking, swimming or working out.
  • Eat whatever you want: If your doctor suggests a certain food causes your body to react negatively then of course follow the directions of your health professional, but surprisingly, the study reported no connection to longevity and a specific diet. Most of the participants claimed to not spend a lot of time watching what they ate, and according to the study, consuming the major vitamins like calcium, vitamin E, vitamin A or vitamin C, didn’t result in extending one’s life.
  • Quit smoking: Plain and simple, participants in the study who smoked, died sooner than those who didn’t. An estimated 438,000 Americans die annually from diseases caused by smoking, older smokers expose themselves to greater health risk.
  • Become a coffee drinker: According to the research there was a connection between caffeine intake and long life. Participants who drank coffee lived longer than those who didn’t, the study suggests one to three cups per day was better than more, or none.
Photo credit: Terrell Woods

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