Research suggests ‘positive psychological factors’ could improve ageing
According to the researchers, “positive psychological factors” were associated with greater longevity.
What this means is that their data suggested that optimists live for longer than those who were not optimistic.
To be optimistic is to refer to someone who has a general expectation that good things will occur or have a belief that the future will be favourable.
The study in question covered 69,744 women and 1,429 men with both groups completing surveys on their levels of optimism alongside their health habits and overall health.
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Researchers found that the most optimistic men and women had an 11 to 15 percent long lifespan and were 50 to 70 percent more likely to reach the age of 85 than the less optimistic group.
Said results were accounted for after age, demographic factors, chronic diseases, depression, and other health factors had been accounted for.
Writing in the PNAS journal, they concluded: “In conclusion, we found higher optimism levels were associated with longer life span and greater likelihood of achieving exceptional longevity. Importantly, these associations were replicated across 2 independent cohorts and remarkably similar in magnitude in men and women, after adjusting for potential confounders and possible intermediate variables.
“Given research showing that increasing health span often accompanies increasing life span, our findings suggest optimism may be an important psychosocial resource in promoting healthy aging. Such findings add to the arsenal of potentially modifiable factors that should be targeted to improve population health and longevity.”
Co-author of the study Professor Lewina Lee added: “While research has identified many risk factors for diseases and premature death, we know relatively less about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging.
“This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan. Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies.”
As to why optimism helps improve longevity and the likelihood of living for longer, the researchers weren’t certain of.
Senior author Professor Laura Kubzansky said: “Other research suggests that more optimistic people may be able to regulate emotions and behaviour as well as bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively.”
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Furthermore, as well as being able to regulate their behaviours to a greater degree, the researchers also hypothesised at the time the study was published three years ago that more optimistic people have healthier habits.
However, as an exact answer isn’t yet known, the authors said more research needed to be done in order to identify the why now the what had been potentially identified.
Professor Lee added: “Our study contributes to scientific knowledge on health assets that may protect against mortality risk and promote resilient aging.
“We hope that our findings will inspire further research on interventions to enhance positive health assets that may improve the public’s health with aging.”
What are the main actions I can take to live for longer?
It all starts with the basics. The two main pillars of living for longer are eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
The NHS recommends at least two and a half hours a week of moderate to intense physical exercise.
Furthermore, cutting out alcohol, smoking, high and high salt products are also effective.
For further information, consult your doctor and if you spot any bodily anomalies to obtain a consultation so any life shortening condition can be identified.
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