This is a very cool study that was featured on NPR; it is in fact a follow-up study done back in the 1950’s on the habits of successful kids, almost 1,500 of them. These new researchers picked up on the study and tried to track down the kids to see how they were doing.
They found some interesting patterns appear in the kids who live the longest and healthiest:
"The most cheerful, optimistic kids grew up to take more risks," explains Martin. "By virtue of expecting good things to happen and feeling like nothing bad ever would, they predisposed themselves to be heavier drinkers, they tended to be smokers, and their hobbies were riskier."
So, she concludes, "some degree of worrying actually is good." And, in fact, adds Friedman, "the prudent, persistent, planful people — both in childhood … and then in young adulthood we measured that — that was the strongest individual difference, or personality predictor, of long life."
Friedman and Martin also found that the conventional wisdom on fitness isn’t quite right. If we try too hard to push ourselves into exercise regimens, it can backfire. Physical activity is important, they found, but it’s more about doing what you love than adhering to a certain fitness program.
Read more about The Longevity Project.