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Seniors’ Enjoyment of Life Linked to Better Physical Abilitites

Seniors' Enjoyment of Life Linked to Better Physical Abilitites Being happy and content with life appears to do more than maintain mental health; it is associated with better physical function.

UK researchers discovered people who enjoy life maintain better physical function in daily activities and keep up faster walking speeds as they age, compared with people who enjoy life less.

In a study found in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers examined 3,199 men and women aged 60 years or over living in England.

They looked at the link between positive well-being and physical well-being, following participants over 8 years. Participants were divided into three age categories: 60–69, 70–79 and 80 years or over.

Researchers from University College London assessed participants’ enjoyment of life with a four-point scale, rating the following questions:

“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” and “I feel full of energy these days.”

Researchers used personal interviews to determine whether participants had impairments in daily activities such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, bathing or showering. They gauged walking speed with a gait test.

“The study shows that older people who are happier and enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age,” said Andrew Steptoe, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care at UCL.

“They are less likely to develop impairments in activities of daily living such as dressing or getting in or out of bed, and their walking speed declines at a slower rate than those who enjoy life less.”

Participants in the 60–69-year bracket had higher levels of well-being as did those with higher socioeconomic status and education and those who were married and working.

Not surprisingly, people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes , arthritis, stroke and depression had lower levels of enjoyment of life.

People with low well-being were more than three times as likely as their positive counterparts to develop problems in their daily physical activities.

“This is not because the happier people are in better health , or younger, or richer, or have more healthy lifestyles at the outset, since even when we take these factors into account, the relationship persists,” Steptoe says.

“Our previous work has shown that older people with greater enjoyment of life are more likely to survive over the next eight years; what this study shows is that they also keep up better physical function.”

Study results provide further evidence that enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people, according to Steptoe and his co-authors.

“Efforts to enhance well-being at older ages may have benefits to society and health care systems,” he said.

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal

Seniors’ Enjoyment of Life Linked to Better Physical Abilitites

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Seniors’ Enjoyment of Life Linked to Better Physical Abilitites. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 21 Jan 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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