Here’s some uplifting news. Research is supporting our long-held belief that optimism is associated with good things. Findings are that optimism favors longevity in older women, and better emotional health in older men.
The study of women, which included women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, also examined their health habits as possible confounders thinking that those variables could explain their greater longevity. The researchers found that healthy lifestyle only accounted for about 25% of the effect observed. So yes, maintain your health habits but also nurture your positivity (as hard as that can be these days).
As for men, their optimism resulted in a reduction of negative feelings that was partially explained by less exposure to stressful situations. This study sample included mostly white, mostly economically secure men so we don’t know if this finding would hold in a more diverse sample.
Evidence continues to mount that staying active is protective during aging. Here’s a report on a study of 72 people between the ages of 60 and 80 observed for a year. They were randomly assigned to a program of aerobic exercise or stretching and toning activities. At year’s end, the brains of the aerobic exercisers had better blood flow than did those of the stretchers and toners. This is not a ‘hard’ outcome but suggests the exercisers would also have better brain FUNCTION, which is the important thing.
Maybe your thing is swimming, or biking, or you need a stick or two to help with balance and movement. That’s ok. Mix it up a bit. See if your Medicare plan gives you gym access. March in place in front of your TV. Whatever works for you. Moving > not moving!