Last week, 60 Minutes aired a segment on people that live to the age of 90 and beyond, and the lifestyle habits that set them apart from their peers. It was fascinating. Some of the things you’d expect, others not so much.
The people in the story were part of a study that looked at 14,000 residents of a development for seniors south of Los
Angeles called Leisure World. The name has since been changed, mainly because it was not fitting in the slightest. ACTIVE World would have been a more accurate moniker. The study found that exercise, anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes a day, was one of the biggest factors in whether or not the respondents lived past 90. Beyond 45 minutes, activity didn’t seem to have an effect on aging. Also, it didn’t have to be 45 consecutive minutes. It could be done in 10 or 15 minute segments. The important thing was just to get out and get moving.
“People who exercised definitely lived longer than people who didn’t exercise. As little as 15 minutes a day on average made a difference. Forty-five was the best. Even three hours didn’t beat 45 minutes a day.”
Another surprising find was that vitamin intake (regardless of which ones) and the kinds of foods eaten didn’t seem to have an impact on aging. The most senior of senior citizens seemed to enjoy foods of all kinds and didn’t worry about clean eating. Those who consumed alcohol in moderation (up to 2 glasses a day) did live longer than those who did not. Not only that, it didn’t seem to matter what type of alcohol. It would have been a martini or a glass of wine. The type didn’t have an impact.
Another factor that influenced living beyond 90 was social contact with others. Staying busy and actively engaged with others rather than becoming reclusive had an impact. While the study did not specifically look at respondents’ sex life, many of the interviewees, Including Henry and Helen (pictured below, who have been dating for three years), alluded to the fact that they were still interested in the romance, even after age 90.
Henry Tornell: I asked them, “Aren’t you gonna ask us any questions about our sex life?” And they said no.
Lesley Stahl: Well, I will. How’s your sex life? You brought it up.
Helen Weil: See, he is funny, you know. That–
Lesley Stahl: Well, I don’t know. I think– I’m not laughing. How is your sex life?
Helen Weil: He’s blushing.
Lesley Stahl: He’s blushing. But is that part of– do you think that has something to do with–
Henry Tornell: I would say it has a big part.
Lesley Stahl: Helen?
Helen Weil: We are very emo– we are very affectionate./
Lesley Stahl: But do you think that sex is an important part of staying young?
Henry Tornell: Yes.
More on 60 Minutes: Living to 90 and Beyond