How To Live Long

It may be no coincidence that so many creative types have long lives. New findings show how doing what you love can add years

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Illustration by Serge Bloch for TIME

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Just last month, a research review published in BMC Public Health found that doing volunteer work--in such places as hospitals and soup kitchens that allow direct contact with the people you're helping--may lower mortality rates by as much as 22% compared with those of nonvolunteers. Making such social connections, according to results from that review and others, increases life satisfaction and reduces depression and loneliness and in turn lowers the risk of hypertension, stroke, dementia and more.

All of that is a lot of existential and scientific baggage to pile on the satisfying work of the centenarian who merely likes to paint, the aged novelist who feels he still has one good book in him, the nonagenarian architect who wants to be around to see one more masterpiece rise on Fifth Avenue. And the same idea of simple pleasure from a job you like is also true if your work is teaching school or practicing law or keeping shop. But it's still nice to know that when you spend your working years happily and well, you just might get a handful of extra ones slipped in before the lights go off.

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