Going Long: Secrets of Male Longevity
Life extension tips that can also make life more fun
Keep walking, talking, and thinking continued...
Walking also encourages socializing, Butler points out, which contributes to
male longevity. “My group has breakfast together after our walks and we even
have little symposia on topics that interest us.”
Greenblatt affirms that the potential for male life extension has to do with
the brain and not just the body. “Men who remain intellectually active, not
just physically, tend to thrive,” he says. “That means, are they reading,
following the news, participating in social clubs? I see a lot of men who’ve
had successful careers. The ones who don’t have social relationships or
interests they cultivate generally have a real tough time in retirement.”
Love handles and love lives: Do they affect male longevity?
What about sex? “The more the merrier,” chuckles Butler. “Actually, we don’t
study sexuality enough, so I can’t answer scientifically that sex per se leads
to a longer life. But we do know that married men live longer than non-married.
That may not be related to sex, but to the fact that, in couples, there is
someone looking out for you, particularly if you get sick.”
“Men who are widowed have a considerably shorter life expectancy than men
who are married — however, the opposite is true for women,” observes
Greenblatt. “When women lose their husbands, that improves their life
expectancy. That says a lot about who is helping who.”
There is more good news for aging men, according to Greenblatt. If you put
on a few pounds as you get older — and we’re talking about in your 70s or 80s
here, not 50s or 60s — it might not be the end of the world. “Weight, as men
age, appears to be less and less important,” Greenblatt says. “In fact, a
normal body weight in an older man is more predictive of dying than being
overweight.” This might be due to the fact that the male population with a
normal body mass includes some people who used to be overweight but are now
sick and losing weight — so the average life expectancy of the normal weight
group might be dragged down by these ailing men. “But who knows — that’s just
conjecture,” says Greenblatt. Carrying a few extra pounds “might simply be an
advantage,” as men age, he says.
So let’s review — a couple drinks a day, strolling around the park, hanging
out with friends, plenty of sex (OK, that last one is not scientific, but it
doesn’t seem to hurt), not sweating the love handles, enjoying life. A guy
could get used to this life-extension program.