We are all aware that regular exercise and good nutrition should give us a ‘leg-up’ in the ageing well stakes, but did you know that our outlook on life can be just as important. Researchers from the USA, including Boston University’s School of Medicine, found that an optimistic and positive approach not only improves our cardiovascular health, but also helps us combat depression, improves our resistance to colds and ultimately helps us to live longer. As we approach the end of what has been a very strange, perplexing and at times somewhat ‘dark’ year one could be forgiven for wanting to consign 2020 to the bin. But, even in the current climate there have been many reasons to be optimistic. For example, we have had Captain Tom, the clap for carers and people’s collective view on the need to exercise. In fact, many of us have picked up new life skills be that a language, a new technology or even baking. My new skills encompass sound editing and becoming an avid bread maker. Who knew what could be achieved with just flour, water and a little salt?Anyway, back to the research which was conducted in the USA using two existing groups of people who were recruited for different studies and included 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 1,500 men in the Veterans’ Health Study. Each participant was assessed for their levels of optimism, as well as their overall health including exercise, diet and whether they smoked or drank alcohol. The research threw up some surprising results and showed that, on average, those men and women in the study group that were the most optimistic had an 11 to 15 percent longer life and were more likely to live to 85 compared with those in the least optimistic group.Although we know a lot about the importance of nutrition and exercise, what this study demonstrates is that lesser known "positive psychosocial factors" play an important role in helping us age well. Professor Lewina Lee, associate professor of psychiatry, who amongst others worked on the study said: "Our findings speak to the possibility that raising levels of optimism may promote longevity and healthy ageing.”I for one will be making sure my new year resolutions include a healthy dose of optimism. Roll-on 2021, hooray! for that.
Boldie thanks:Thanks to Tim Mossholder for the photograph posted to Unsplash