Don’t worry, be happy — you may just live longer…
[Article] by Laura Entis | January 21, 2014 | via Entrepeneur
A large existing body of research shows that negative emotions — including depression, stress and anxiety — can have a detrimental effect on our physical well-being.
Andrew Steptoe, the director of the Institute of Epidemiology at University College London, decided to examine the flip side of the coin: Can a healthy, happy, energized mental state have a positive physical effect? “We were interested in seeing whether positive well-being might have a protective effect on age-related changes,” Steptoe says.
To find out, Steptoe and his co-authors analyzed data on 3,199 people, 60 and older, and recorded their attitudes about how much they enjoyed life. Respondents were split into three groups: about 21 percent were categorized as having a positive mental outlook, 56 percent a medium level and 23 percent a low level.
The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, tracked respondents over an eight-year period. Inevitably, as participants aged, difficulty performing day-to-day tasks — which included getting dressed, climbing stairs, and cutting food — increased as mobility became more limited.
At the end of the study, about 4 percent of those with the most positive outlooks developed two or more new functional impairments, compared with 17 percent of those who enjoyed life the least.
The authors tried, as much as possible, to control for variables such as baseline health, age, wealth, education and other similar categories. “Obviously, there’s a correlation between people who report lower-life enjoyment and those who are chronically ill or have mobility issues,” Steptoe says. “We tried to measure all the other factors that could impact the results, and then adjust the data accordingly.”
While initial differences in baseline health and mobility significantly influenced the results, “even when we controlled for these variables, a strong association between a positive mental outlook and physical health remained,” Stephoe says.
After the data was adjusted, people who responded with low-life satisfaction levels were still 83 percent more likely to develop two or more day-to-day age related problems than those who reported high-life satisfaction…
[Read more or comment at Study: Enjoy Life, Live Longer]