Secrets to a long life

The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday this month and shows little sign of slowing down. She racked up 341 public engagements, including trips to Malta and Germany, last year – and was photographed riding on horseback.

Is there anything we can do to remain as sprightly as the Queen and lead a long, healthy life? We’ve done the maths on some simple lifestyle choices that might help

Lifestyle choices count

These tips are certainly worth a try. A 50-year study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, of 855 men born in 1913 found that a number of lifestyle factors were common among those living longest. A total of 27% (232) of the original group lived to the age of 80 and 13% (111) to 90 – 1.1% (ten) of the subjects made it to their 100th birthday.

Lars Wilhelmsen, who has been involved in the study for the past 50 years, said: "Our recommendation for people who aspire to centenarianism is to refrain from smoking, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and confine themselves to four cups of coffee a day.”

Other findings were that among the men who lived longest, it helped if they had also owned their own home by the age of 50 and had mothers who lived into their 80s or 90s. They also coped well with a cycling test at 54.

Are genes a factor?

Another study, the Longevity Genes Project, studied the eating and lifestyle habits of 477 Ashkenazi Jews aged 95-plus and concluded that centenarians might also have longevity genes. (The group were chosen because they are more “genetically uniform” than other populations.)

Head of the research, Dr Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, found  that even those who drank, smoked and did less exercise could live a long life. "Although this study demonstrates that centenarians can be obese, smoke and avoid exercise, those lifestyle habits are not good choices for most of us who do not have a family history of longevity," said Barzilai.

"We should watch our weight, avoid smoking and be sure to exercise, since these activities have been shown to have great health benefits for the general population, including a longer lifespan."

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