Longevity: How to Live Long And Prosper, according to science
The report contains research on trends in three areas scientists associate with longevity: health, financial security and social connections.
Two older adults dancing. The activity theory states that optimal ageing occurs when individuals participate in activities, pursuits, and relationships. Photo: Flickr/Ignas Kukenys
Stanford research project uncovers keys to enhance longevity
Life expectancy into our 80s and beyond has become commonplace. Now, a Stanford University project aims to reveal how our culture can contribute to living longer – with full lives.
The report from Stanford’s Center on Longevity, The Sightlines Project: Seeing Our Way to Living Long, Living Well in 21st Century America, contains research that focuses on trends in three areas scientists associate with longevity: health, financial security and social connections. The goal is to provide researchers, industries and the general public with data to help drive the national discourse about the quality of our longer lives.
The study’s authors looked at data from eight multi-year studies of more than one million Americans. Key trends uncovered include:
- More people are engaging in healthy living activities like regular exercise
- Fewer people are smoking
- The level of obesity is rising
- People are now sitting for long stretches
- Problems with diet and sleep are widespread and on the rise.
According to psychology professor Laura Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, there is a great deal we can do to ensure satisfying, long lives.
“Individual choices like exercising, eating well and spending high-quality time with friends can be encouraged by adopting new social policies that promote longevity,” said Carstensen.
Other challenges to living longer
The research further revealed that less-educated people and millennials are challenged to find financial security – an important quality-of-life issue.
“The least educated are more likely to live at or near poverty levels, lack resources for emergencies, and are unable to build a financial cushion for later in life,” said Martha Deevy, director of the Stanford Longevity Center’s financial security division. She said college-educated millennials are burdened with five times the debt that 25- to 34-year-olds had fifteen years ago.
In the study, 55- to 64-year-olds exhibited notably weaker social connections – relationships with spouses, partners, family, friends and neighbors – than 15 years ago. The seniors were less involved in their communities than their predecessors.
The researchers said it was too soon to gauge whether tech-based socializing – texting, chat, posting and tweeting – provides the same boost to longevity as traditional forms of interaction with family and friends.
The center plans roundtables with policymakers, private sector leaders and researchers to develop solutions to longevity problems, and help our culture better support living long and living well.
More info about the research and its data sources is available here.