People Who Enjoy Life Actually Age Better, Study Shows

01/21/2014 10:48 am ET | Updated Aug 05, 2015
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Love life and it will love you back, a new study says.

A British study found that older adults who enjoy life also enjoy better physical abilities as they age. Researchers at University College London spent eight years following nearly 3,200 men and women aged 60 and over in England to monitor their physical function and assess their enjoyment of life. Participants were asked to assess their contentment, by rating their agreement with the following statements, on a four-point scale:

  • I enjoy the things that I do.
  • I enjoy being in the company of others.
  • On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness.
  • I feel full of energy these days.

The researchers also interviewed the subjects to find out if they had any physical impairments when performing simple daily activities like getting dressed and also measure their walking speed.

"The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age," researcher Andrew Steptoe said in a release. "They are less likely to develop impairments....and their walking speed declines at a lower rate than those who enjoy life less."

The participants with lower well-being were over three times as likely to develop problems than their more contented counterparts. "Our previous work has shown that older people with greater enjoyment of life are more likely to survive over the next eight years," Steptoe said.

A 2011 study conducted by Steptoe found that people who were the happiest were 35 percent less likely to die compared with those who were least happy. This could be because they're less likely to suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and other painful conditions like arthritis. Plus, research from Carnegie Mellon shows happy people are also less susceptible to colds and flus!

All the more reason to see the glass half full.

Earlier on HuffPost50:

8 Things That Make Or Break Your Happiness: AARP Survey

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