More proof that attitude is all you need for healthy ageing

April 22, 2009


Those who have heard me speak about healthy living know I often quote the statistic that optimists live on average 7.5 years longer than pessimists – so it pays to be cheerful. Now some new research has shown that the children of parents who live to be 100 are on average more outgoing, agreeable, and less neurotic. As children usually inherit both longevity and personality traits from their parents it seems your attitude not only increase your own lifespan, but those of your offspring as well.

The research was done at New England Centenarian Study at Boston University Medical Center and their chief finding was that long life was linked to being more outgoing, sociable and friendly. With those attitudes people are able to manage stress better, and your ability to successfully do that definitely improves your health and your longevity. Less outgoing and more neurotic or nervous people in the study were found to be less able to handle stress than the more cheerful subjects. This unique study is the first to study the children of centenarians and from a questionnaire they measured qualities such as neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Children is not quite accurate as the average age of the participants was 75, not unusual in parents around 100 years old. The women participants rated higher on the agreeableness scale, but on all other factors men and women scored equally. It has been observed in previous research that centenarians tend to have sunny dispositions, which is just as well as who wants to be miserable for 100 years?

In Okinawa, it is known that these particular Japanese people live longer than their countrymen and Nobuyoshi Hirose, an expert on ageing, put it down to the fact that they are all likeable, sociable people. Plus we know that eating less meat and having a strong sense of purpose in your life also increases your life expectancy – and the quality of it

Short of emigrating, just do what you can to keep cheerful and be as sociable as you can – and never mind if your children think it’s undignified!


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