There are many reasons to live a happy life. Among them, according to a new study, is a longer-lasting, more functional body. The study found that older people who enjoy life maintain a better physical function later into life.
The findings fall in line with many previous studies that have found that an active, outgoing, and optimistic person is more likely to be happy and healthy into old age. The catch though, may be that happiness has to come from young age first. A July 2013 study, for example, found that people who were more outgoing and emotionally stable during young adulthood were more likely to carry those traits as they aged. This in turn could affect physical well-being, as evidenced by the current study.
The current study looked followed 3,199 men and women over 8 years. The participants were split into three age groups (60-69, 70-79, and 80 and over), and asked to assess their enjoyment of life on a four-point scale. Specifically, they were asked to rate their happiness based on the following statements: “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” “On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness,” and “I feel full of energy these days.”
Their answers were compared to interviews in which the participants reported on how well they carried out daily tasks, such as getting dressed, getting in and out of bed, and bathing. Their walking speed was also determined with a gait test. Overall, the researchers found that happiness correlated to better physical function. Unsurprisingly, they also found that participants in the youngest age group were most likely to report and exhibit well-being. Besides them, participants with higher socioeconomic status, an education, and who were married were also better able to function.
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