Is behavior an intervening factor in longevity?

¿Es el comportamiento un factor interviniente en la longevidad? - Fundación General CSIC, Investigación

"Ageing is not a long-term process that happens randomly, but each individual is an active agent of their own ageing, if genetics influences 25%, the rest is due to environmental factors. Having a good old age depends on 75% of oneself ". This was stated by Rocío Fernández-Ballesteros, coordinator of an international symposium relating longevity and behavior organized by the Ramón Areces Foundation, the Psychology Academy of Spain and the General CSIC Foundation.

Under the motto: Is behavior an intervening factor in longevity?, the meeting met on March 1 and 2 in Madrid international experts to analyze, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the contribution of psychological variables in human ageing. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that having healthy habits and certain behaviors such as controlling stress determine active ageing. "It is important to highlight that the role of each individual to have a long life and, even more, a long active and healthy life", adds this psychologist, professor emeritus at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

"Lifestyles such as regular physical exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, taking care of one's health, not smoking and drinking in moderation or following medical prescriptions are, among many other behavioral habits, determinants of a healthy and active old age", added the coordinator of the symposium. On the last of these aspects, the adherence or compliance with the treatments of the doctors, José Manuel Ribera Casado, professor emeritus of Geriatrics at the Complutense University, has indicated that "contrary to what is believed, the data available indicate that the older there is better compliance. "

For his part, Rikke Lund of the Department of Public Health and Center for Healthy Aging in Denmark has broken another of the stereotypes: "In the last 40 years, social relationships have been linked to longevity, and now there is solid evidence that adverse social relationships increase mortality. Most have focused on the structural aspects of social relationships and on their most positive qualities, neglecting the negative aspects. Recent research has suggested that the negative aspects of social relationships As conflicts and concerns are associated with increased mortality, some studies even suggest that these negative effects cancel out the positive effects of supportive social relationships. "

Increasingly smart

The psychologist María Ángeles Quiroga, professor at the Complutense University, spoke about the intellectual improvements. On the other hand, Margaret Kern, from the University of Melbourne, has talked about how personality factors are related to longevity. "The individual characteristics that make us unique determine many aspects of our life such as success at work, mental and physical health, as well as longevity, but personality does not provide an award-winning ticket for good life nor does it condemn others to failure"

Linda S. Gottfredson, professor at the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Delaware, has highlighted the evidence that we now live much longer and in healthier conditions than a century ago. "The bad news is that the rates of illness, injury and death still differ according to the socioeconomic level of the population." Sociologist Lourdes Pérez Ortiz, from the Autonomous University of Madrid, has stopped to study how the elderly are viewed by the rest of society and about extreme longevity has spoken the professor of the UNED Rosa Gomez-Redondo. "The number of centenarians is experiencing exponential growth and this represents a set of achievements long pursued by humanity, but that could be a source of important challenges in the future, if that demographic plasticity does not correspond to a parallel social plasticity ".

Source: FGCSIC