Do intelligent people live longer?

I have a fascination with people. I am continually intrigued by the way that we think, feel and act and as I observe the world around me and my fellow human beings I often ask ‘why’? Why are they saying that or doing that? Where does that feeling come from and what does it mean?

As I observe behaviour I see one fundamental difference in people that is to do with what I like to call ‘awakeness’. Some people are really awake and aware. They are engaged and actively involved in life. They have a drive to experience and learn and continue to develop as a person. Over all it seems that this has nothing to do with age. Strangely I see people in their middle age at 40 to 50 who have old minds, brains and ideas and I see people at 80 and 90 who are as bright as buttons still engaged and learning.

Now, I would say that answer to the above question is ‘yes’. I believe that people that are intelligent live longer but I also believe that intelligence can be learned. I accept that we all have a genetic predisposition to develop in certain ways but for all of us this is only a starting point. Our brain and our mind is no different to a muscle in our body. If you exercise a muscle it grows bigger and stronger. Exactly the same is true of your brain and your mind. The more you exercise it the more it grows and develops. The majority of intelligence is learned. I am sure that the nature nurture debate will roll on but in neuropsychology we know that the brain has plasticity and will grow change and develop if we exercise it.

If we practice playing a piano our brain will develop in ways that accommodate this. The same is true of every skill and habit that we have developed throughout life. In most cases what we call intelligence is simply one of the habits that we taught our brain. The ability to think clearly, to discriminate and to analyse are skills that can be learned. Those people that do have a flexibility in both their thinking and their feeling. Strangest of all is that those people also seem to maintain physical flexibility as well.

I see this every time I go to the University of the Third Age, the organisation for life long learning. When I give talks the average age is 80 the younger ones are in their 70s and the older ones in their 90s. I am forever astounded at the flexibility of their minds but also the flexibility of their bodies.

With what are now beginning to understand about the gut brain and the heart brain it is becoming clearer that both the brain and body run together, they work together. Flexibility of mind and body seems to naturally go together.

I suspect that the greatest effect on longevity, alongside medicine, is the printing press, education and books. We know that reading develops the brain but so much more…

Research shows that reading not only helps with fluid intelligence, but with reading comprehension and emotional intelligence as well. You make smarter decisions about yourself and those around you. Reading does in fact make us more intelligent. 


…reading gives muscle to your memory. While the brain isn’t actually a muscle, it can still benefit from a good workout. Furthermore, it’s surprising just how reading can make you healthier.

I am suggesting that you might like to check out this article. One of the issues it talks about is how Alzheimer’s can be held off through the simple act of reading. Which was the main theme of international book week this year.

Be happy and grab a good book

Take care

Sean x

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