We all would like to live a long life, and it’s no secret there are things we can do to try and make that happen. A good diet and exercise can certainly help slow down the effects of aging, but a new study suggests there are several mental health-related areas that can help increase a person’s life expectancy.
A new study published in "Health Psychology" reveals that psychological well-being can play a huge role in longevity, noting that those who were happier, more optimistic, and more purposeful lived longer than those who weren’t. The study determined their findings by looking at data on physical and mental health of more than 20,000 adults aged 50 or over for 14 years.
After looking at factors that could shorten life expectancy, like smoking, existing health conditions and socioeconomic status, they realized that when these things were controlled for there were some older adults who lived longer and determined it was their mental well-being that was the factor.
- According to UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, “People with significantly higher than average life satisfaction, positive feelings, purpose in life, or optimism at age 50 lived an average of five to eight additional years,” although the study didn’t exactly answer why that’s the case. Researchers do speculate it’s because those who are psychologically healthy also tend to take better physical care of themselves, such as being physically active, sleeping better and more. They can also cope better with stress, which is good for one’s physical health.