Quality of life and longevity do not necessarily go together. Many years do not guarantee a rich and full life but if I could choose, I would certainly want to stick around a long time.

Logo of WHO World Health Organization

According to the World Health Organization Japan has the highest overall average life expectancy of 84 years. Andorra, Australia, Italy, San Marino, Singapore, and Switzerland rank second with 83 years. African nations occupy the final 30 spots with Sierra Leone last with a life expectancy of 46 years. The United States is number 34 of 194 at 79 years.

There are many factors that effect how long one lives. Harry Truman said the secret to living a long life is to take a two-mile walk every day before breakfast. That might have worked for him but it is not for me.

George Burns Picture

George Burns was one of the few entertainers whose career successfully spanned vaudeville, radio, film and television. Before he died at the age of 100 he said, “f you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”

A ninety year old man was asked to what he attributed his longevity. “I reckon,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “it is because most nights I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.”

A recent study cited on the website, Health.com, found that four bad behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—can age you by as many as 12 years.

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Julie Zaumer, writing for the Washington Post last month, offered one other suggestion for living longer. She cited a new study published recently by the American Medical Association which concluded that those who attend church services more often actually have a better chance of staying alive in the long run.

Small Rural Church in Texas Stock Image

Over a 20-year span, the study surveyed a group of more than 76,000 female nurses. More than 13,000 of them died during the 20 years. The women who went to religious services more than once a week were 33 percent less likely to be in that group who died, compared to those who never attended services.

Tyler VanderWeele, a researcher at Harvard’s school of public health who co-wrote the study, said participants who attended services once a week saw the odds of their dying go down 26 percent. Those who attended services less than weekly increased the odds of them dying 13 percent. In addition, they found the effect of religious attendance was stronger than that of any other form of participation in a social group like a book club or a volunteer organization.

So, if you want to live longer: don’t smoke, limit your alcohol consumption, eat your veggies, stay active, and attend worship services regularly.

I’ll see you in church.

Jamie Jenkins

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