The secrets to a long and happy life

FROM HOL­I­DAYS, TO GOOD FOOD, TO GOS­SIP­ING WITH FRIENDS, ROB KNIGHT RE­VEALS WHAT MAKES US MORE CON­TENT

Gloucestershire Echo - - HEALTH & LIFESTYLE -

WANT to know the se­cret to a long and happy life? Of course you do.

You prob­a­bly think it is some­thing to do with eat­ing well, ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly and not drink­ing too much.

And yes, all of those things are im­por­tant, but there is more to it than that ac­cord­ing to older Brits.

Gossip, get­ting plenty of sun – and not work­ing in an of­fice were all cited by people over 55 as be­ing key to en­sur­ing you live a long and happy life.

Get­ting at least eight hours sleep, liv­ing some­where ru­ral and hav­ing a lov­ing part­ner helps, while paint­ing and draw­ing, seeing lots of the world and a small act of kind­ness ev­ery sin­gle day can also lead to a longer and con­tented ex­is­tence.

Re­search of 2,000 adults aged 55 and over, com­mis­sioned by Bupa to mark Care Home Open Day, also found they first be­gan to re­alise the se­cret to a happy life at the age of 49.

Joan El­liott, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Bupa Care Ser­vices says: “We will all have our own the­o­ries on what makes for a happy and ful­filled life but it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to get the insights of the older gen­er­a­tion.

“Over­all there are a num­ber of themes

within our top 50 secrets to a long and happy life, namely love, friend­ship, cre­ativ­ity, eat­ing well and be­ing out­side.

“Cre­ativ­ity ap­pears to be es­pe­cially im­por­tant and per­haps this is be­cause it stim­u­lates the mind and al­lows us to ex­press our­selves and re­lease any frus­tra­tions.”

The sur­vey also found that laugh­ing an av­er­age of eight times a day also leads to a long and happy life.

Own­ing a pet and reading ev­ery day is rec­om­mended too, along with tak­ing care of your ap­pear­ance. Get­ting your five-a-day also has a pos­i­tive ef­fect – as does lis­ten­ing to mu­sic ev­ery day and work­ing with people you get on with.

Go­ing on a big hol­i­day ev­ery

year is be­lieved to make a dif­fer­ence as well, along­side en­joy­ing chocolate and cake in mod­er­a­tion, and do­ing things for char­ity.

The sur­vey also dis­cov­ered that half of over 55s wish they had more time to do the things which make them happy – such as hobbies and spend­ing time with fam­ily.

Those polled have an av­er­age of two hobbies on the go and ded­i­cate more than 369 hours a year to them – the equiv­a­lent of 15 days in to­tal.

Car­ried out by Onepoll, the Bupa re­search also found over 55s think cre­ativ­ity is key to be­ing happy – some­thing 35% wish they had more time for.

And be­ing happy is ‘vi­tal’ to our phys­i­cal and men­tal well­be­ing – nine

in 10 be­lieve hap­pi­ness im­proves our over­all health levels.

And if you are wor­ried about get­ting older, then you shouldn’t be be­cause those polled, 37% said they are hap­pier now than they ever have been.

“It’s fan­tas­tic to see so many re­spon­dents are happy with their lives,” adds Joan.

“Most people might think we’re hap­pi­est when we are younger but the re­search shows there is much to look for­ward to as we grow older – hav­ing more time to pur­sue hobbies is just one thing to be ex­cited about.” WHETHER it’s cuddling up with your part­ner, greet­ing a friend with a big hug or a re­as­sur­ing arm placed around your shoul­der, the phys­i­cal ex­pres­sion of pos­i­tive re­gard be­tween people through touch is hugely im­por­tant.

It’s widely be­lieved that phys­i­cal affection isn’t simply some­thing that we like or want; it’s some­thing we need to nour­ish and sus­tain our well­be­ing.

The po­ten­tial neg­a­tive ef­fects that have been linked to a lack of phys­i­cal affection are ex­ten­sive. As chil­dren, a lack of affection can have pro­found ef­fects on phys­i­cal, emo­tional and so­cial devel­op­ment.

Stud­ies of or­phaned chil­dren who are ne­glected or starved of affection have shown that they are more likely to have lower IQS, greater dif­fi­culty form­ing re­la­tion­ships and more phys­i­cal and men­tal ill­ness in later life. A lack of affection has even been shown to im­pede chil­dren’s phys­i­cal growth.

In adult­hood, a lack of affection has been linked to lower levels of hap­pi­ness, so­cial sup­port and re­la­tion­ship sat­is­fac­tion. People who feel they do not get enough affection are also more likely to ex­pe­ri­ence lone­li­ness, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion

Keep­ing up with the grand­kids will im­prove your health and your out­look

Hav­ing a pet can make all the dif­fer­ence to the qual­ity of your life

Most people think a good gossip keeps life in­ter­est­ing and us in­ter­ested in life

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