Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A long and healthy life? A new book might challenge what you know

We have been told that the key to longevity involves obsessing over what we eat, how much we stress, and how fast we run. Based on the most extensive study of longevity ever conducted, The Longevity Project exposes what really impacts our lifespan - including friends, family, personality and work.

This is the first time the general public has shown the findings of this incredible, decade-spanning study that began in the early 1920s

Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight Decade Study

By Howard S. Friedman, PhD and Leslie R. Martin, PhD

Published by Hay House, 4th July 2011, £10.99 pb

Gathering new information and using modern statistics to study participants across eight decades, Dr Howard Friedman and Dr Leslie Martin bust myths about achieving health and long life. For example:
- People do not die from working long hours at a challenging job – many who worked the hardest lived the longest
- Getting and staying married is not the magic ticket to long life, especially if you're a woman
- It's not the happy-go-lucky ones who thrive – it's the prudent and persistent who flourish through the years.

With questionnaires that help you determine where you are heading on the longevity spectrum and advice about how to stay healthy, this book changes the conversation about living a long, healthy life.

Howard S. Friedman is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California in Riverside, California. For three decades, Professor Friedman has studied personality predictors of longevity, developing a scientific understanding of the 'disease-prone personality' and the 'self-healing personality.' Leslie R. Martin is Professor of Psychology at La Sierra University in California.


The Longevity Project proves that most of the truisms about health and longevity are inaccurate; and even when they are true, it’s not for the reasons we expect!

Here are just a few of the longevity myths busted in this book:

• ‘You’ll worry yourself sick’: In reality worriers live longer; a healthy dose of concern about the future makes people more likely to be diligent about their health, which translates into years.

• ‘Look on the bright side’ It turns out that overly-optimistic people tend to put themselves in harm’s way—they just don’t see risks as clearly as people who are prone to caution/pessimism.

• Do you resolve every year to exercise more? Vigorous exercise can be detrimental to longevity. If you’re not a gym bunny, don’t sweat it—partaking in physical activities that you enjoy like gardening or walking actually are more beneficial to your health than high-impact exercise.

• ‘You’ll work yourself to death’: Hard workers actually live longer, even those with stressful jobs; being engaged and motivated keeps you alive.

• Married people live longer: Those in happy marriages do often live longer, but those whose marriages end in divorce actually have shorter life spans.

• Early education ensures higher level of achievement: Many children who are pushed into schooling before they’re prepared actually do not excel academically. In fact, drop-out levels are often higher in children who are put into school too early.

What do the experts say about this book?

‘The Longevity Project uses one of the most famous studies in psychology to answer the question of who lives longest - and why. The answers will surprise you. This is an important and deeply fascinating book.’
Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point

‘The content of this book will prove fascinating, not only to social, behavioral, and clinical scientists and practitioners and their students, but to the general reading public as well. The writing is crystal clear as it compels us to go on reading because we know that there will be an illuminating vignette as an example, or another fascinating finding, just around the corner, on the next page.’
Robert Rosenthal, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Riverside and Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Harvard University

‘Incredibly, no one until now has chronicled and interpreted the findings from the monumental almost century-long longevity project for the general public. Is living a long life associated with being married, daily jogs, having a pet, or faith in God? At last, with lucid prose and rigorous yet crystal clear analysis, Professor Friedman and Professor Martin have succeeded beautifully.’
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph. D., professor of psychology at the University of California/Riverside, and author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want

‘Want to live longer? You’ve probably heard the common advice (don’t work so hard, think positive thoughts, eat your broccoli, etc.) As the fascinating analysis in The Longevity Project shows, much of this advice is wrong. Based on one of the longest-running longitudinal studies ever conducted, The Longevity Project describes, in its lively and accessible pages, the personality traits most common to those who lived long lives – and how to shape them in yourself. It’s a great read for anyone interested in the burgeoning research on psychology and health.’
Jean M. Twenge, author of Generation Me

‘A compelling and objective assessment of character traits associated with longevity. Only a handful of studies in this field last long enough to give meaningful results, and even fewer remain significant after their primary investigators have passed away. Friedman and Martin have resurrected a remarkable achievement with surprising conclusions. I learned a lot from this book.’
Andrew Weil, M.D.

(EDITOR: So a lot of what we think we know might not be wrong, but actually be detrimental to our well-being? This is fascinating stuff.)

To find out more about this book visit 

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