Key to Longevity Is Kindness, World's Oldest Person Said

gertrude weaver
Getrude Weaver, the world's oldest person, died April 6, 2015 at the age of 116. (Image credit: GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS)

The world's oldest person, an Arkansas woman named Gertrude Weaver, died at age 116 on Monday, according to news reports. Weaver had something in common with the woman who now holds the title of the world's oldest person: both attributed their longevity to exercise, as well as a compassionate spirit.

Weaver held the title of the world's oldest person for only five days, after Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman who lived to be 117, died last Wednesday (April 1). Weaver was born on the Fourth of July in 1898, and died Monday due to complications from pneumonia, Arkansas station KATV reported.

Now, the world's oldest living person is Michigan woman Jeralean Talley, who is closely followed by Susannah Mushatt Jones of New York City and Emma Morano of Italy, all of whom are 115,USA Today reported. [The World's 7 Weirdest World Records]

Weaver enjoyed manicures, Bible study and wheelchair dancing, she told Time magazine in 2014. Weaver said the secret to her long life was kindness: "Treat people right and be nice to other people the way you want them to be nice to you."

Tulley has offered similar advice for living a long life: Stay active and live by the Golden Rule, USA Today reported. 

Okawa, the world's oldest person up until last week, offered slightly different advice. She told The Japan Times that the key to her longevity was "eating delicious things," such as ramen noodles, beef stew, hashed beef and rice.

Researchers have linked longevity to a wide array of factors, including having good genes, being vegetarian, eating lots of fiber, not sitting too much, jogging and volunteering.

The oldest person ever known was Jeanne Louise Calment of France, who lived to be 122 years and 164 days old. Calment died in 1997, according to Guinness World Records. The world's current oldest living man is Sakari Momoi of Japan, who is 111, according to the Geronotology Research Group, which keeps track of the world's supercentenarians, or people older than 110.

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Tanya Lewis
Staff Writer
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.