On the Edutainment Beat: Be Like Mickey & Minnie!
Mickey and Minnie’s birthday celebration kicked off at Disney Parks on January 18th.
For 90 years old, they’re looking pretty spiffy (especially in their new confetti-inspired outfits).
But what is their “secret” and what can we as guests learn from them about how to live longer?
Let’s face it, mice don’t usually live more than a few years because they have so many threats to their survival, like hawks or humans setting traps.
Although Disney demands a lot of its leading gentleman and lady, the company also provides Mickey and Minnie more protection than normal mice would receive.
I guess we would all live longer if we also had character attendant bodyguards with us most of the time.
I’ll be giving these cast members an extra enthusiastic “Thank you!” on my next trip for supporting the world-renown rodents.
Mickey and Minnie might have lived such long lives because Disney has created a safe environment for them and because they don’t have any kids of their own.
Our own bodies age because we have limited resources to spend on repairing them, according to Steven Austad, a professor who studies the biology of aging at the University of Alabama. Devoting biological resources to having kids also takes away valuable resources from maintaining the rest of the body.
On the other hand, having kids is also associated with living longer. One guess as to why having kids helps us live longer is because children provide valuable social connection in old age. Elderly folks who have a more social connection with neighbors and family are less likely to have dementia.
Even though Minnie and Mickey don’t have any of their own children, meeting hundreds of thousands of their biggest fans every day is probably enough to keep their minds as sharp as their favorite cheddar cheese.
Having more social connection also encourages older people to stay active.
Performing every day in parades and shows like the new Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party is demanding, but at least Mickey and Minnie are staying healthy as a result.
Exercising is linked with lower risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes,
Maybe Mickey and Minnie are so healthy at their age because they are on very strict diets.
Having a nutritionally balanced diet with 30-40% fewer calories than an average diet slows down “almost all age-related changes mice normally undergo, including the onset of age-related diseases,” according to a report by the American Federation for Aging Research.
We still don’t know if the same effects apply to humans, but other research suggests we are more likely to live longer if we drink more alcohol or coffee than if we ate all of the scrumptious birthday snacks found across the parks during the Surprise Celebration.
So Mickey and Minnie’s secret to living longer seems to be spending time exercising and eating with loved ones in the utopia of Disney parks.