Lifestyle Factors of People with Exceptional Longevity


Address correspondence to Swapnil N. Rajpathak, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461. E-mail:


OBJECTIVES: To assess lifestyle factors including physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, and dietary habits in men and women with exceptional longevity.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.

SETTING: A cohort of community-dwelling Ashkenazi Jewish individuals with exceptional longevity defined as survival and living independently at age 95 and older.

PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred seventy-seven individuals (mean 97.3±2.8, range 95–109; 74.6% women) and a subset of participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) I (n=3,164) representing the same birth cohort as a comparison group.

MEASUREMENTS: A trained interviewer administrated study questionnaires to collect information on lifestyle factors and collected data on anthropometry.

RESULTS: People with exceptional longevity had similar mean body mass index (men, 25.4±2.8 kg/m2 vs 25.6±4.0 kg/m2, P=.63; women, 25.0±3.5 kg/m2 vs 24.9±5.4 kg/m2; P=.90) and a similar proportion of daily alcohol consumption (men, 23.9 vs 22.4, P=.77; women, 12.1 vs 11.3, P=.80), of regular physical activity (men: 43.1 vs 57.2; P=.07; women: 47.0 vs 44.1, P=.76), and of a low-calorie diet (men: 20.8 vs 21.1, P=.32; women: 27.3 vs 27.1, P=.14) as the NHANES I population.

CONCLUSION: People with exceptional longevity are not distinct in terms of lifestyle factors from the general population, suggesting that people with exceptional longevity may interact with environmental factors differently than others. This requires further investigation.