Be­ing happy may help you live longer, finds new study

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

NEW RE­SEARCH has found that happy older peo­ple may live longer than their peers who are not as sat­is­fied with life, sug­gest­ing that ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­grammes aimed at main­tain­ing or im­prov­ing hap­pi­ness may be ben­e­fi­cial for in­creas­ing life ex­pectancy among se­niors. Car­ried out by re­searchers at Duke-NUS Med­i­cal School in Sin­ga­pore, the new study gath­ered data from 4,478 par­tic­i­pants aged 60 years and older liv­ing in Sin­ga­pore who took part in a na­tion­ally rep­re­sen­ta­tive sur­vey.

The sur­vey as­sessed hap­pi­ness by ask­ing par­tic­i­pants how of­ten in the past week they ex­pe­ri­enced the fol­low­ing -- “I felt happy,” “I en­joyed life” and “I felt hope about the fu­ture.” The re­sponses were then used to an­a­lyse the re­sults in two ways, firstly cal­cu­lat­ing a hap­pi­ness score of 0 to 6 for each par­tic­i­pant, and se­condly by defin­ing them as ei­ther happy or un­happy. Af­ter tak­ing into ac­count a wide range of po­ten­tially in­flu­enc­ing de­mo­graph­ics, life­style choices, health and so­cial fac­tors, the re­searchers found that an in­crease in hap­pi­ness is di­rectly pro­por­tional with a re­duc­tion in mor­tal­ity.

More specif­i­cally, among happy older peo­ple, 15 per cent passed away be­tween 2009, when hap­pi­ness was as­sessed, and the end of 2015. How­ever, 20 per cent of un­happy older peo­ple died dur­ing the same pe­riod, with the re­searchers cal­cu­lat­ing that the risk of dy­ing due to any cause was 19 per cent lower for happy older peo­ple. In ad­di­tion, for ev­ery in­crease of one point on the hap­pi­ness score, the team found that the risk of dy­ing due to any cause was re­duced by an ad­di­tional nine per cent. The in­verse as­so­ci­a­tion of hap­pi­ness with risk of death was also con­sis­tent among both men and women and among the younger se­niors (aged 60 to 79 years) and the older se­niors (aged 75 years or older).

“The find­ings in­di­cate that even small in­cre­ments in hap­pi­ness may be ben­e­fi­cial to older peo­ple’s longevity,” ex­plained se­nior au­thor As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor Rahul Mal­ho­tra. “There­fore in­di­vid­ual-level ac­tiv­i­ties as well as gov­ern­ment poli­cies and pro­grams that main­tain or im­prove hap­pi­ness or psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing may con­trib­ute to a longer life among older peo­ple.” “The con­sis­tency of the in­verse as­so­ci­a­tion of hap­pi­ness with mor­tal­ity across age groups and gen­der is in­sight­ful -men and women, the young-old and the old-old, all are likely to ben­e­fit from an in­crease in hap­pi­ness,” added co-au­thor June May-Ling Lee.

Pre­vi­ous re­search has also found a link be­tween hap­pi­ness and im­proved health out­comes, how­ever the link with re­duced mor­tal­ity has so far proved in­con­clu­sive. The new study is also one of the first to as­sess the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween hap­pi­ness and mor­tal­ity among Asian se­niors, while still ac­count­ing for sev­eral so­cial fac­tors, such as lone­li­ness and so­cial net­work. The find­ings can be found pub­lished on­line in Age and Age­ing, the sci­en­tific jour­nal of the Bri­tish Ge­ri­atrics So­ci­ety. – Re­laxnews

*All ma­te­ri­als are only for your in­for­ma­tion, and should not be con­strued as med­i­cal ad­vice. Where nec­es­sary, ap­pro­pri­ate pro­fes­sion­als should be con­sulted

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