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How to live longer: Greater optimism can help you live beyond 85, study says

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The Boston University School of Medicine noted how a positive mental attitude is linked to “exceptional longevity” – defined as living beyond 85 years of age. Here are the research details. Dr Lewina Lee said that their research study suggests that optimism “has the potential to extend the human lifespan”. There were 69,744 women and 1,429 men involved in the investigation, who completed surveys to assess their levels of optimism, overall health and habits.

Women were followed for 10 years, while the men were followed for 30 years.

Based on their initial levels of optimism, the follow-up study found that the most happiest people demonstrated, on average, a 15 percent longer lifespan.

Those who felt most optimistic had up to a 70 percent greater chance of reaching 85 years old compared to the least optimistic group.

The results were maintained after taking into account the following factors:

  • Age
  • Educational attainment
  • Chronic diseases
  • Depression
  • Alcohol use
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Primary care visits

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Moreover, those with a sunnier disposition are able to “bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively” than gloomier counterparts.

Those with a happier outlook on life have also been linked to healthier habits, such as exercising more and are less likely to smoke.

A professor of epidemiology, Fran Grodstein, added: “Research on the reason why optimism matters so much remains to be done, but the link between optimism and health is becoming more evident.”

Dr Lee concluded: “Our study contributes to scientific knowledge on health assets that may protect against mortality risk and promote resilient ageing.

Additional techniques include breathing exercises and learning time management strategies.

Enjoy yourself

“Doing things that you enjoy is good for your emotional wellbeing,” said the national health body – as long as it’s not a detriment to your health.

This could be meeting with a friend, having a soak in the bath, or watching sports.

Boost self-esteem

This can be achieved by positive self talk and taking care of yourself.

Other keys to happiness include: having a healthy lifestyle; sharing your feelings; and building resilience.



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