- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Plume (Feb. 28 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452297702
- ISBN-13: 978-0452297708
- Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 222 g
- Customer Reviews: 68 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #451,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study Paperback – Feb. 28 2012
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"I recommend you read the book." — Katherine Bouton, The New York Times
"A remarkable achievement with surprising conclusions." — Andrew Weil, M.D.
About the Author
Dr. Leslie Martin is Professor of Psychology at La Sierra University, and Research Psychologist at UC Riverside. She graduated summa cum laude from the California State University and received her Ph.D. from the University of California in Riverside. She has received the Distinguished Researcher Award, and the Anderson Award for Excellence in Teaching, both at La Sierra University. Former department chair, Dr. Martin has also received awards for outstanding advising and for service learning. In addition to her research on pathways to health and longevity, she studies physician-patient communication and its relationship to medical outcomes and has lectured widely on these topics.
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Top international reviews
Dr. Terman started his research of bright or gifted children from California in the early 1920s, with candidates on average being around 10 years old. These were then followed until the death of Dr. Terman until the 1950s by the original research team and then by several subsequent groups of researchers well past the year 2000.
Longitudinal research is relatively rare, as it is both expensive and as it requires a very long term perspective to produce results - not something particularly popular in the current 'publish or perish' academic environment. In order to make the most of it, Dr. Terman tested the participants on the widest possible spectrum of questions, so as to enable the future generations to test this unique database for a variety of effects of lifestyle choices on longevity.
The book is significant in that it allows several common sense myths about longevity to be finally laid to rest. Examples being that married people live longer, that one should exercise as vigorously as possible, avoid stress and moderate work, etc.
While the content of the research is certainly of impeccable quality, the presentation - here geared towards the broadest possible audience - is less of a success. The authors try to bring the subject closer by presenting results via individual study participants and their experiences. This is certainly easier to read and picture than endless tables of statistical significance of the findings (or the general style of peer reviewed scientific publications) but often creates the impression that their findings are based on a handful of single person cases and thereby not really generally applicable (as pointed out by several reviewers).
While this is not the case (and going through some of the sources mentioned at the end of the book will convince you of it) it can be vexing at times and I would personally also have enjoyed more numerical data supporting the findings. The authors also admit that their research primarily accounts for the nurture end of the spectrum, meaning that they are researching behavioural / environmental and not genetic influencers of longevity. This is not a detriment, as we can hardly alter our genetic make-up but certainly are capable of changing our behaviour or environmental effects on us.
Be that as it may, the book is certainly good enough to allow you to ask yourself questions about your lifestyle and to make changes which are easier to successfully maintain than the standard short term bouts of dieting and occasional exercising that many do as a result of well intentioned but seldom kept resolutions on a healthier life. As such I can definitely recommend it, even if the readers interested in more detail will be better served by the sources at the back for satisfying their further curiosity.
Die beiden Autoren fassen ihre wissenschaftlichen Ergebnisse in diesem populärwissenschaftlichen Buch zusammen. Es wendet sich an den durchschnittlichen Bürger mit guter Bildung. Das Buch liest sich sehr gut. Die Ergebnisse werden wissenschaftlich korrekt dargestellt, dabei aber immer unterhaltsam und flüssig zu lesen. Einzelne Aspekte (Glück, Geschlecht, Erfolg, Religiosität, etc) werden in handlichen Kapiteln abgehandelt. Highlight: am Ende jeden Kapitels wird gefragt "What it means for you: Guideposts to health and long life". Hier werden kurze Hinweise gegeben, was die Ergebnisse für den Einzelnen bedeuten können. Dabei geht es gerade nicht um eine weitere "To do and not to do" Liste, sondern das wesentliche Ergebnis der Studie ist, dass ein langes Leben Produkt einer bestimmten Lebenseinstellung ist. Aber lesen Sie selbst - es lohnt sich.
All in all a great book and the kind I look for: one that cuts beneath conventional wisdom in which health 'facts' change daily.
So why publish it? The name Terman is what attracted me..Terman's gifted children.....I guess "qualified" I.Q. -wise but a generation later than his study...
I will finish it and see if any useful conclusions are drawn in the end..
(Later) I have now finished the book. It keeps repeating itself but comes to some obvious conclusions: people with a "right" attitude tend to live longest. i.e., everything in moderation, have a STRONG social network and work satisfaction, give back to society, etc.
Only surprise was that children who start formal schooling extra early tend not to live as long(!)
I would say the conclusions mirrored the general values of the early forties and fifties about "well-rounded" people in stable social situations.....nothing really new here...... a real prejudice toward divorce and lack of conformity. The long-lived people were always CONSCIENTIOUS, they say!!
In closing,"... people on these long-life paths reflect an active pursuit of goals, a deep satisfaction with life, and a strong sense of accomplishment."
WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?
As some have pointed out, the authors can be imprecise, e.g. "lots" of folks showed this behavior. Well, what's lots? On the other hand it's not a scientific report. Maybe we don't need to know that 49.8% of the people did or did not do this.
But I only gave the book four stars because in quite a few cases I wanted to know a little more about how they drew their conclusions. Once you think you have the answer it's tempting to look for that answer in further data and it seemed like they did that. So I would have liked a little more rigor in the analysis.
But I'd buy the book again and would recommend it. Too many books on longevity focus on lists of stuff to do or not do. Or they are heavily pitched toward diet or perhaps exercise and not other issues like social networks. There are a lot of topics discussed here. And they ARE discussed. They don't just SAY it's better to be happily married, they actually discuss it. And why and why it isn't necessarily so.
Translated, that means making small incremental changes over a long period of time and sticking with it.
The explanation for length of life after the death of a spouse is especially interesting (Chapter 13). This book
is a "keeper" and one to recommend to people you care about.