Keep playing sports, live longer: Study

Many of us may have pondered when in the company of a very old person:  What is the secret to living a long life?

Well a recent book sets out to answer that question – and some of the findings are surprising.  The key finding was that people who are conscientious, that is, responsible and caring for both themselves and others, tended to live longest.

Playing a sport has health benefits beyond exercise. Emotions, well-being and confidence improve as well.

The Longevity Project is the result of an 80-year study of 1,500 male subjects. As middle-aged hockey players, it’s worth paying attention to a couple of  findings.

The study began in 1921 and carried over to this century, well after the original founder died in 1956.  Data continued to be collected on the participants throughout their lives.

Among the findings:

As mentioned, conscientious people lived longer lives. The reason? The authors say it’s because they tend to be responsible, organized and think ahead. Because of this, they’re less likely to experience daily stressors. So planning ahead is never a bad thing.

They were also more likely to be moderate drinkers or abstainers and non-smokers. Even if you straightened out your life and became more conscientious that was beneficial as well.

Hard workers tended to live longer. 

Men who re-married after a divorce cut their risk, though the same did not occur for women.

Being steadily single was about the same as being steadily married.

And surprisingly, the very cheerful, optimistic types, didn’t outlive their more cynical colleagues.

But here’s the kicker:  Being active in mid-life and later was important, even if you weren’t earlier in life. That becomes especially true when doing something you like, like say, playing hockey, than going to the gym or running because you feel you need to.

So you see, all this time we’ve been dragging that smelly bag to arenas, suiting up and sweating like pigs has been good for us. As husbands, fathers and boyfriends we sometimes get criticized for continuing to engage in a silly game that according to some, we should’ve given up long ago. My father never played the game and yours probably didn’t either — not until late middle age anyway. But the truth is the process adds life to our years and years to our lives.

But I think we knew that.

Only now we have a scientifically valid excuse to head out the door to go play.  Something to remember next time your partner complains about it.

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About Rolf Sturm

Sportswriter & blogger, news writer, video journalist, photographer, podcaster
This entry was posted in Hockey and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Keep playing sports, live longer: Study

  1. Thanks for this column. For more information about The Longevity Project and to read the Introduction (free), go to The Longevity Project
    http://www.howardsfriedman.com/longevityproject/
    There is also a Facebook page with lots of discussion about The Longevity Project.

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