Posted on Jan 09, 2019, 7 p.m.
Positive thinking is suggested to be the key to healthy old age; optimists who believe their life has meaning walk faster, have stronger grips, and suffer less pain as they get older according to a new study from University College London researchers, as published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
More than 7,000 people between the ages of 50-90 were questioned on how meaningful they felt their lives were and were asked to rate it on a scale of 0-10. They were found to be 13% more likely to see friends weekly, and much more likely to be part of a social club or organisation. Spending too much time in front of a t.v or on their own may make life feel less meaningful warn the researchers.
Researchers found those who judged life most worthwhile were 16% more likely to be married and were 13% less likely to live alone; those whose live held least meaning spent almost twice as much time alone. Those aged 50+ were more likely to judge life worth living if they were married; and see friends at least once a week. Those whose lives held less meaning spent twice as much time alone, more than 6 hours on average, and spent more time watching t.v.
Those with a score of 9 or higher were found to be 10% most likely to be among the highest earners; a third less likely to be depressed; less obese; a fifth more likely to get good sleep; walked faster; ate better; were less likely to be disabled or suffer from chronic illness; and those that did volunteer work were found to see their lives as more worthwhile.
A sense of meaning is believed to motivate people to live more healthy as those who seen life as most worthwhile were 11% more likely to exercise. Results suggest to get a sense of meaning it is important to spend time with other people.
Those with ratings between 0-2 were found to spend 5 hours and 18 minutes alone on an average day, compared to 2 hours and 46 minutes for those who rated their lives as more meaningful. Those who rated their lives less meaningful spent 4 hours and 2 minutes watching t.v on an average day, compared to 3 hours and 17 minutes.
Having a good relationship with others seems to improve people’s sense of meaning which can lead to more social activities and exercise in a virtuous circle explains Professor Andrew Steptoe.
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