Want to know the aging secrets of folks who’ve hit 90 years old and over? Well, in 2003 The 90+ Study set out to discover the answers.
Researchers at the UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND) followed 1,600 people who reached this ripe old age. Every six months, researchers visited these 90-year-old participants to perform mental and physical tests.
Of course, the participants also documented their diets, activity, medications, and more. And after all these years of study, we now have answers to how these folks manage to live as long as they do.
But before we reveal some of the surprising aging secrets, did you know the “oldest old” are the fastest-growing segment of the American population? In fact, by 2050, it’s estimated that there will be over 10 million Americans who are old enough to say they were alive when JFK was elected.
Now, here are a few of the factors contributing to their longevity, especially the healthiest among them:
- Hobbies. Those who practiced hobbies around two hours a day were 21% less likely to die than those who didn’t.
- Exercise. The more exercise the better! Physical activity up to 45 minutes a day earned a 10–25% reduction in mortality; anything longer kept the benefit steady (a 21-25% reduction).
- Weight. People who were obese or underweight both were at greater risk of passing away.
These may not be surprising factors in longevity. But the next three factors have all had their share of controversy in the past. (Of course, talk to your doctor when it comes to your particular situation):
- Another cup please! Moderate amounts of coffee (two cups a day) actually increased longevity.
- Alcohol… good? Just like coffee, the data revealed those who drank two or more glasses of alcohol a day reduced mortality risk by 15%. (And the study wasn’t limited to wine.)
- Overhyped vitamins? Antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E didn’t contribute to longevity at all. NOTE: I don’t recommend ignoring these important vitamins for overall health and bone density. The study simply didn’t find these three correlated with the oldest people in the research.
So, what do you think? Have these seniors discovered the secret to longevity? If these findings don’t describe your life, maybe it’s time we all take a page from The 90+ Study.
Now, it’s not all sunshine and roses for some of these long-lived seniors. According to the researchers, over 40% of those 90 and older suffer with dementia. Nearly 80% are in wheelchairs or can’t move independently. And women are more likely to suffer with these issues.
And while there is no known “cure” for many age-related ailments like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, we can try our best to prevent them from happening in the first place.
What are some good ways to maintain quality of life over time? Well, you can always turn to Senior News for the latest science and tips on how to live happier and healthier. And who knows… you could be the next 90-year-old living life on your terms and feeling great doing it.
(I hope to see you there one day!)
By Dean Neuls
Dean Neuls is the Co-Founder and CEO of AlgaeCal. He is a natural health author and student of bone health science who is passionate about helping people & bettering lives.