Posted on Feb 06, 2014, 6 a.m.
People who are happy and enjoy life tend to maintain better physical functions as they age.
Previously, a number of studies report that maintaining a positive outlook on life may reduce the odds of serious illness. Andrew Steptoe, from the University College London (United Kingdom), and colleagues assessed the link between positive well-being and physical well-being in 3,199 British men and women, ages 60 years and older, who were followed for eight years. The team asked the subjects to rank their enjoyment of life with a four-point scale. Researchers used personal interviews to determine whether participants had impairments in daily activities such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, bathing or showering. They gauged walking speed with a gait test. The data revealed that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age. The lead author observes that: "They are less likely to develop impairments in activities of daily living such as dressing or getting in or out of bed, and their walking speed declines at a slower rate than those who enjoy life less." People with low well-being were more than three times as likely as their positive counterparts to develop problems in their daily physical activities. The study authors submit that: “our results provide evidence that reduced enjoyment of life may be related to the future disability and mobility of older people.”
Steptoe A, de Oliveira C, Demakakos P, Zaninotto P. “Enjoyment of life and declining physical function at older ages: a longitudinal cohort study.” CMAJ. 2014 Jan 20.