Forget about those supposed exercise hacks or the newest 2014 diet. A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that happiness and "enjoyment of life" are real key to improving your physical function. Previous research in University College London's English Longitudinal Study of Ageing has already supported the theory that people over 50 who enjoy life more tend to live longer. Now, researchers have taken the findings a step further by collecting data that draws a link to increased daily activity as well.
The study focused on 3,199 men and women over the ages of 60 in England who had already taken part in the UCL study. Over an 8-year period, researchers tracked participants, who they split into three groups: those in their 60s, those in their 70s, and those in their 80s. The subjects not only filled out questionnaires so their enjoyment of life could be evaluated, but also had their impairment in two or more "daily activities of living" measured, in addition to a walking test.
The researchers ultimately divided the subjects into terciles based on their rate of enjoyment. About 4.4 percent scored as "high enjoyment of life," 11.7 percent for "medium," and 16.8 percent for "low." The contentment assessment consisted of four statements that participants had to answer on a 4-point scale:
- I enjoy the things I do
- I enjoy being in the company of others
- On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness
- I feel full of energy these days
The results: Those in the "low tercile" were over three times or more likely to find performing daily tasks difficult. Walking speed was also directly correlated to the level of well-being — the more you enjoyed life, the more likely you were to have a faster gait.
Because, gotta get to that life-enjoyment!