An old Russian saying goes: ‘If you don’t drink and smoke, you don’t live longer - it just seems longer.’
Who knows what Russians might say about a new study claiming the secret to a long life is having no sex, eating lots of vegetables, and not achieving much in life.
The study - which analysed the longevity of 1,014 species of reptile - found that life in the slow lane paid off.
Creatures which had less sex, ate less meat, and did less, lived longer.
Sex and birth puts a lot of stress on the body, which leads to shortened lifespans - so wallflowers tend to live to a more advanced age.
Animals which came to sexual maturity earlier also died younger.
'We found that reptiles that were sexually mature early on were less likely to make it to old age,' Professor Shai Meiri continued. 'Live fast and die young, they say — but live slow, live long.'
Munching a grim diet of vegetables and leaves also paid off in life expectancy - not because vegetables are healthy, but because plant eaters have a slower pace of life.
Overall, the researchers said, living a slow, relaxing life, eating vegetables, and being a total sexual failure was the ‘golden recipe’ for living longer.
The researchers caution, however, against transferring the results directly to human behaviour.
'If you're an animal, hunting your food can be dangerous,' said Prof. Meiri.
'You risk injury or even death. This is why you cannot simply transfer this logic to humans. Going to buy a head of lettuce at the supermarket is just as risky as going to the meat department.
‘As a reptile, if you eat plants, you may need to be frugal, take life more slowly, and save your calories for digestion. You are forced to have a slower life, a more phlegmatic existence.'