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Newark Advertiser reader’s letter: Be Happy

Being an optimistic person can add another ten years to your life expectancy, according to new research carried out in the US.

A study has found that those who always look on the brighter side of life were more likely to live past the age of 90. A scientist from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston said, and I quote, that optimism was equally as good as exercise.

The findings, published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, are based on 160,000 women in the US, tracked for up to 26 years.

Optimism was assessed using a questionnaire known as the life orientation test — one of the most commonly used measures. Other factors, such as education, marital status, income, and chronic health conditions, were also taken into account.

Those who ranked among the top 25% for optimism lived 6% longer, on average, than those in the lower quarter.

A spokesman from the Harvard School of Public Health said higher optimism was associated with a longer lifespan and greater likelihood of achieving exceptional longevity overall.

Future research should investigate these associations in less long-lived populations.

Growing evidence suggests that positive psychological factors are associated with a lower morbidity risk and also mortality.

A sunny disposition is partly genetic, however, experiments have demonstrated that it can be inspired by positive thinking strategies.

Research has suggested that optimistic people take a more proactive approach to promoting their own health, such as increased physical activity, healthier diet and not smoking. — C. HOBBY, Newark.

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