Taller Women May Live Longer, According to Science
While there are no guarantees in this world, if you want to live a long life, you may want to pray for tall genes.
A new study has found that tall women who are physically active have the greatest likelihood of living to age 90 and beyond. The result came from a long-term study of almost 8,000 men and women, with researchers following them over the course of a 20-year period, starting in 1986. When the study began, the participants were between the ages of 68 to 70, and researchers tracked their height, weight, whether they were current or former smokers, how much they drank, their education level, and the amount of physical activity they did each day, and tracked them over the course of 20 years. The results were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Over the course of the study, some 433 men (16.7%) and 944 women (34.4%) survived to the age of 90. Women who lived that long were on average taller than their peers. Women who were more than 5 feet 9 inches in height were 31% more likely to reach 90 than women less 5 feet 3 inches. The women who lived to 90 had also weighed less at the start of the study and had put on less weight since the age of 20 than those who were shorter and heavier, but it was really height that seemed to give them an advantage when it came to longevity. The researchers weren’t entirely sure why that was true, but believe that the connection with height and longevity was not only an issue of physical health, but also correlated with income, level of stress, and self-esteem which can all add to longevity.
Strangely, the study found that it was just women whose height gives them an advantage in the age game, and there was no such correlation between height and age for men—and the researchers are not sure why.
If you don’t happen to be tall—and most women aren’t, as the average woman measures around 5’ 4”—there are other ways to ensure a long life, which don’t include high heels. For instances, exercise fanatics will be glad to know that their hard work may pay off in the form of living to a ripe old age. Researchers found that women who were physically active for about an hour a day tend to live longer no matter how tall they are in or out of heels. This doesn’t mean signing up for an hour-long hot yoga class, though, as the study defined physical activity to include activities like gardening, dog walking, home improvements, and walking as well as cycling to work, and recreational sports. Regardless of how much you enjoy physical activity, there’s no real need to hit the garden or gym for more than an hour a day. The researchers found that working out twice as hard didn’t produce any better results, at least when it came to longevity. Interestingly, men who worked out longer than 60 minutes a day did tend to benefit longevity-wise. The more time men spend physically active every day, the better it is for their chances of reaching old age.