- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Plume; 1 edition (February 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452297702
- ISBN-13: 978-0452297708
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study Paperback – February 28, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
In this illuminating addition to the burgeoning bookshelf on longevity, UC-Riverside health researchers Friedman and Martin draw on an eight-decade-long Stanford University study of 1,500 people to find surprising lessons about who lives a long, healthy life and why. The authors learned, for example, that people don't die simply from working long hours or from stress, that marriage is no golden ticket to old age, and the happy-all-the-time types may peter out before the serious plodders. If there's a secret to old age, the authors find, it's living conscientiously and bringing forethought, planning, and perseverance to one's professional and personal life. Individual life stories show how different people find the right balance in different ways, depending on their personalities and social situations. Lively despite the huge volume of material from 80 years of study, and packed with eye-opening self-assessment tests, this book says there's no magic pill, but does offer a generous dose of hope: even if life deals you a less than perfect hand, you're not doomed to an early demise if you live with purpose and make connections with the people around you. (Mar.)
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"Provocative. An absorbing and invaluable read." — The Wall Street Journal
"I recommend you read the book." — Katherine Bouton, The New York Times
"A remarkable achievement with surprising conclusions." — Andrew Weil, M.D.
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Top customer reviews
As some have pointed out, the authors can be imprecise, e.g. "lots" of folks showed this behavior. Well, what's lots? On the other hand it's not a scientific report. Maybe we don't need to know that 49.8% of the people did or did not do this.
But I only gave the book four stars because in quite a few cases I wanted to know a little more about how they drew their conclusions. Once you think you have the answer it's tempting to look for that answer in further data and it seemed like they did that. So I would have liked a little more rigor in the analysis.
But I'd buy the book again and would recommend it. Too many books on longevity focus on lists of stuff to do or not do. Or they are heavily pitched toward diet or perhaps exercise and not other issues like social networks. There are a lot of topics discussed here. And they ARE discussed. They don't just SAY it's better to be happily married, they actually discuss it. And why and why it isn't necessarily so.
Translated, that means making small incremental changes over a long period of time and sticking with it.
The explanation for length of life after the death of a spouse is especially interesting (Chapter 13). This book
is a "keeper" and one to recommend to people you care about.
Many of the results were astounding and dispel myths we have about what leads to longevity. For example, the idea that being married correlates with a longer life is much more complex than the surface statement. Men who divorced were thought to live shorter lives not just because they didn't have a wife to take care of them. Divorced men were often found to be less conscientious. And men who were mildly worried and hence conscientious were found to live long regardless of their marital status. So there is, for many of the factors, an external (ex: married or not) as well as an internal (ex: conscientious or not) factor.
Some of the bombshells include: cheerful and optimistic children were LESS likely to live to an old age than their more staid and sober counterparts; being conscientious is one of the major factors in longevity; worrying and stress can actually be GOOD for your health; in interviewing older men, not a single one ever spoke the word DEATH in reference to his own demise; parental divorce often leads to shorter lives; pets don't increase your lifespan; and, as a former teacher, I found this most shocking of all: Kids who go into school at an early age aren't necessary getting a head start--sometimes they develop low self esteem because they are behind their peer, and can have difficulty the rest of their lives!
And of course, not all longevity wisdom had been a myth. The study also confirmed things we already knew, such as having friends you can talk to about feelings will increase your lifespan. Interestingly, however, the size of the social network seems to be more important than the quality of friendships. Also, helping others will make you live longer.
This was a very interesting book and I read it cover-to-cover without reading other books at the same time--it was that engaging! It's relevance is across the board for everyone.