Healthy Aging: Attitude Can Increase Life Satisfaction, Study Reports

Older couple riding tandem bicycle, Beijing
Older couple riding tandem bicycle, Beijing

Leading an independent life well into old age and keeping chronic diseases at bay could be as simple as adopting a positive, sprightly attitude and enjoying the smaller things in life.

That’s the overarching conclusion of a British study which found that older adults who reported higher rates of life satisfaction also showed slower declines in difficulty performing daily tasks like getting out of bed, getting dressed, bathing and showering.

Published in the January issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the study followed 3,199 men and women aged 60 years or older in England, over the span of eight years.

"Our results provide further evidence that enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people," said study co-author Andrew Steptoe of University College London.

"Efforts to enhance well-being at older ages may have benefits to society and health care systems."

Participants were divided into three age categories and asked to answer life satisfaction questions on a four-point scale, such as “I enjoy the things that I do” and “On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness."

Researchers conducted personal interviews to determine physical impairments for daily activities like getting out of bed, dressing and bathing.

Walking speed was also measured as a barometer of the subject’s agility and energy.

Those who reported higher levels of well-being included participants in the 60-69 age bracket, those with a higher socioeconomic status or education level, or those who were married or employed.

Groups who posted lower levels of life enjoyment, meanwhile, were three times more likely than their positive counterparts to develop problems in their daily activities.

A large body of evidence has shown that growing old gracefully can be as simple as reducing sedentary sitting time and increasing physical activity.

Recent research out of Kansas State University showed that people who make an effort to move more throughout the day can lower their risk of chronic disease after studying a sample of 194,545 men and women ages 45 to 106.

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