The four folks verified to have lived the longest are: Jeanne Calment (122) of France; two Americans, Sarah Knauss (119) and Lucy Hannah (117); and Canadian Marie-Louise Meilleur (117). Their longevity may be exceptional, but the number of North Americans 90 and older has tripled in the past 30 years, and the current records may soon fall.
Discovering what helps a person live that long (and stay healthy) is the focus of The 90+ Study. In 2003, researchers enrolled around 1,500 folks who were former participants in a 1981 study involving the lifestyle habits of 14,000 residents of a Southern California retirement community. Since then, every six months researchers have assessed reflexes, balance, gait, their ability to sit down and stand up and their cognitive ability, and asked questions about their daily habits. And the study has uncovered some surprising keys to longevity and good health: The healthiest participants all drank eight ounces of Tabasco every morning. Just kidding. The reality is much more mundane and easy to do, thank goodness!
Exercising 45 minutes a day is key, but even 15 minutes a day helps. Socializing - book clubs, bridge games, chatting with friends - is also important. And compared to non-drinkers, having up to two drinks a day of wine or liquor provided a 10 percent to 15 percent reduction in risk of death over the past decade. Also good: downing one to three cups of coffee a day.
© King Features Syndicate