A new study of older women finds that life satisfaction is linked to higher bone density and less osteoporosis.
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland studied information garnered from women aged 60-70, as a component of an osteoporosis risk factor study initiated in 1989.
The assessment of subjective well-being is often used to predict mental health and depression. In the new study, life satisfaction was used to measure subjective well-being. The goal was to find out whether life satisfaction is also associated with bone health.
Osteoporosis is a common disease, which easily leads to bone fracture, and hip fractures in particular can have serious consequences. Bone density gets lower as people age; however, for women, the menopause constitutes a significant risk factor.
Other risk factors of osteoporosis include low levels of physical activity, light body composition, smoking, low intake of calcium and vitamin D, as well as some drugs and medical conditions.
Mental health is also believed to influence bone health as long-term stress associated with depression can influence metabolism. The health behavior of a depressed person may also increase the risk of osteoporosis, as the person might smoke or exercise too little.
The study participants responded to mail surveys and took part in bone density measurements. The present sub-study included 2,167 women who underwent bone density measurements in 1999, and out of these women, 1,147 took part in follow-up measurements ten years later, in 2009.
Researchers assessed life satisfaction by questions relating to the study participants’ interest in and easiness of life, happiness, and loneliness. Based on the answers, the study participants were divided into three groups: the satisfied, the middle group, and the unsatisfied.
During the 10-year follow-up, the bone density of all study participants weakened by an average of four percent; however, the difference between the satisfied and the unsatisfied was as much as 52 percent.
Changes in life satisfaction during the 10-year follow-up also affected bone density. In persons whose life satisfaction deteriorated, the bone density weakened by 85 percent in comparison to persons whose life satisfaction improved.
Researchers believe the findings clearly show that life satisfaction is an important resource and an indicator of well-being. Life satisfaction has been linked to health, and dissatisfaction is a predictor of incapacity for work, illness, and mortality.
According to this study, it is also associated with bone health, as good life satisfaction diminishes age-induced osteoporosis.
As such, the promotion of good life satisfaction and good spirits in the elderly is as important as promoting healthy lifestyle choices.
Study findings have been published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.