Discovery of "Research Gold" Leads to Key Findings on Longevity

Jane Whistler turned 100 years old recently. When she moved into a retirement community called Leisure World more than 35 years ago, she had no idea that she would eventually be the subject of a study, the first of its kind, that has produced key findings on longevity. But that's where she finds herself these days. Every 6 months, Jane undergoes a comprehensive physical and mental evaluation, conducted by researchers at UC Irvine.

Leisure World (now called Laguna Woods) is a retirement community located 45 miles south of Los Angeles. In 1981, Leisure World conducted a study of more than 14,000 of its residents.

Jane was one of those 14,000.

The data collected was extensive. Pages and pages of information on the diet, exercise, and daily activities of 14,000 people age 52+.

When Dr. Claudia Kawas, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered the data a few years ago, she knew she had struck gold. She could track down these 14,000 participants...find out which ones had since passed away and analyze when they died and how. She could find the ones who were still alive and reexamine them, find out what they've done all these years to make it to 90+.

And that's exactly what she did.

A recent "60 Minutes" documentary reports on Dr. Kawas's study...the history, the progress made, and the key findings  thus far.

Not surprisingly, non-smokers lived longer.

Taking vitamins, overall, had no effect on longevity. Neither did diet.

Social activities and engagement were beneficial.

Moderate drinkers lived longer than non-drinkers. And the type of alcohol didn't matter, as long as it was in moderation.

1-3 cups of coffee a day was better than more or none at all.

But the most crucial finding, the one commonality among every single participant who lived past 90 years of age, was exercise, even as little as 15 minutes a day. Those who exercised 45 minutes a day fared best.

The benefits of the 90+ Study help us better understand the aging process: how we can better care for our elderly loved ones, how we can better care for ourselves, how we can maintain physical and mental health, and, of course, how we can make it into the 90+ club.

To watch the full documentary, click here.