Women who are satisfied with their lives have a higher bone density in the golden years, suffering less frequently from osteoporosis than those who are not, according to a new study at the University of Eastern Finland.
Osteoporosis is a disease that can lead to bone fracture due to dwindling density and post-menopausal women are the most at-risk.
Low levels of physical activity and smoking are commonly cited causes leading to osteoporosis, but psychological factors such as depression-related stress could be playing a larger role than previously thought.
For example, long-term stress can lead people to smoke and deter them from getting enough exercise.
Stress associated with depression can cause the metabolism to run afoul, which can have a detrimental effect on bone health.
In the study, the research team used data on 2,167 women from the Kuopio Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention (OSTPRE) Study, which has been going on since 1989.
Participants had undergone bone density measurements in 1999 and 1,147 of the women in the sample returned for follow-up measurements in 2009.
The research team assessed their life satisfaction with just four questions relating to their interests and ease of living, their happiness and their feelings of loneliness.
Participants were divided into three groups based on whether their answers revealed they were satisfied, neutral or unsatisfied.
Overall, bone density had decreased by four per cent after ten years, yet the difference between those who were satisfied and those who were not was as much as 52 per cent, according to the study.
Those who experienced deteriorating life satisfaction saw their bone density weaken by 85 per cent compared to those for whom satisfaction with life increased.
The researchers, whose study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, say promoting good spirits and life satisfaction among the elderly is just as important as promoting healthy living.