Steps to longevity

PHOTO: Steps to longevity

Scientists in the US recently discovered how to halt the signs of ageing.

They identified "retired" cells that had stopped dividing and found a drug that flushes them out from the body.

But don't throw out your face creams and exercise regimens just yet; this experiment was conducted only on genetically engineered mice.

For those looking to extend their years for as long as possible, a study called The Longevity Project has produced some surprising results on what makes people live longer.

Started in 1921 by Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman, the study tracked more than 1,500 children as they grew into adulthood.

Professor Terman continued his study until he died in 1956.

In 1990, his study was picked up and continued by Professor Howard Friedman, Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Riverside, and Professor Leslie Martin, professor of psychology at La Sierra University, and research psychologist at UC Riverside.

They looked into the study to try to find out why some people live longer and stay healthy.

While the project is not a recipe for eternal youth, it revealed that some commonly held beliefs about what you need for a long life may not be true.

All you need is love? 

It's assumed that being loved and cared for by your soulmate is the key.

While this will help your mental well-being, it isn't crucial. Just keeping up with social interaction was key for those who lived longer.

In fact, marriage is not a sure sign for living longer.

Married men lived longer than those who weren't.

But single women and those who left unhappy marriages lived longer than those who stayed married.

Divorce is harder on men. Those who didn't remarry saw shorter lives than those who remarried.

That said, single men still outlived the remarried.

Worriers die young? 

Optimism can help you weather stressful situations.

But those who were happy-go-lucky and less concerned in their general attitude took more risks with life.

Those who are more worrisome and conscious of dangers appear to live longer than their more laid-back counterparts and were more likely to look after themselves as a precaution.

Those who lived a long life were those who were satisfied with their lives and felt they had accomplished something.

Hard work, early grave? 

Long nights in the office may not be sending you to an early grave.

In fact, those who worked the hardest lived longer than those less motivated.

Prof Friedman told CBS news: "They didn't work themselves to death. They worked themselves to life."

Also, early retirement does not mean long years of bliss.

The change of pace for those who had previously been productive and had interesting jobs was detrimental to their health, especially if they lost contact with friends.

Exercise hard, live longer? 

Exercise will keep your body on the right path, especially if you keep active in middle age. But don't overdo it.

Forcing yourself into a tough exercise regime that feels more of a chore than a pleasure is described by Prof Friedman as counter-productive.

Any activity that gets you out and about will help extend your years.

This article was first published in The New Paper.