The research, led by University of California neurologist Claudia Kawas, tracked 1,700 nonagenarians enrolled in the 90+ Study that began in 2003 to explore impacts of daily habits on longevity.
Researchers discovered that subjects who drank about two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18% less likely to experience a premature death, the Independent reports.
Meanwhile, participants who exercised 15 to 45 minutes a day, cut the same risk by 11%.
“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas stated over the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Austin, Texas.
Other factors were found to boost longevity, including weight. Participants who were slightly overweight — but not obese — cut their odds of an early death by 3%.
“It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old,” Kawas noted in her address.
Subjects who kept busy with a daily hobby two hours a day were 21% less likely to die early, while those who drank two cups of coffee a day cut that risk by 10%.
Further study is needed to determine how habits impact longevity beyond people’s genetic makeups.