Reeling In The Years

I found an article in O magazine March 2011. It was so fascinating that I am going to summarize it for you.

In 1921 a Stanford University psychologist named Lewis Terman recruited 1,500 elementary school students for a study that would last eight decades. Terman followed these students into adulthood until he passed away in 1956. Other scientists then picked up where he left off, and in 1990 psychologists Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin began poring over the wealth of data in search of factors that seemed to contribute to lengthy life span.

In the “Longevity Project,” Friedman and Martin reveal that age-old wisdom like: work less, avoid stress, exercise hard — is plain bad advice. From their findings, you can find five tips that may surprise you.

1. Give more to live more. It is no secret that people with a strong social support system tend to live longer. But it turns out that it’s not what your friends and friend do for you; it is what you do for them that counts. The men and women who liked to give a helping hand – the one who cared for their neighbors, the one whom others turned to for advice – lived the longest.

2. Run the rat race. Everyone fantasizes about a job that isn’t stressful, never follows you home, and complements your personality and interests. But the ideal work life won’t necessary prolong your life. Study participants who persevered towards accomplishment despite high levels of stress and responsibility lived longer than the people worked at their “dream jobs.”

3. Train without pain. You don’t need to enter marathons to have a good long run at life. Forcing yourself to follow a grueling fitness regimen can shed inches, but it may not add years. In the long run, you’re better off sticking with low-impact activities you truly enjoy thant vigorous workouts you dread. Moderate swimming, a leisurely bike ride, and hour-long walks with the dogs are great for your health.

4. Fret a little. Think good things and good things will happen, right? Not necessarily. Friedman and Martin found that too much optimism can be as detrimental to longevity as high cholesterol and hypertension. Always assuming the best, they say, may leave you unprepared to deal with the worst, such as trauma or illness. A little worry keeps you warmed up for the curve balls life throws.

5. Have more fun in bed. Almost 60 years before sex in the city, Terman got women to talk about their sexual satisfaction. The average amount of time they spend being intimate with their husbands, and the frequency of their orgasms. The records show that the women who most often reached climax most often lived longer.


  1. Thanks for the summary! To read the Introduction (free) to The Longevity Project, go to
    The Longevity Project

    There is also a Facebook page with lots of discussion about The Longevity Project.

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