Optimists live longer, says a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The research was conducted at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
To answer the question “Do optimists live longer?”, the researchers analyzed data and survey responses from 159,255 American participants in the Women’s Health Initiative program. The participants were aged 50–79 years.
The research was conducted in intermittent periods over 30 years. The research team broadened the horizon of the survey by including postmenopausal women and women across various racial and ethnic groups.
The results revealed how optimism is linked to longevity in elderly women, irrespective of ethnic or racial background. It showed that 25% who were the most optimistic were likely to have a 5.4% longer lifespan. Additionally, 10% of the participants had a greater likelihood of living beyond 90 years than the 25% who were the least optimistic.
The researchers are enthusiastic that the findings of the optimism-lifespan association can help people reframe health decisions for prolonged life.
One of the lead researchers, Hayami Koga, explained: “We tend to focus on the negative risk factors that affect our health … It is also important to think about the positive resources such as optimism that may be beneficial to our health, especially if we see that these benefits are seen across racial and ethnic groups.”
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Koga, H. K., Trudel-Fitzgerald, C., Lee, L. O., James, P., Kroenke, C., Garcia, L., Shadyab, A. H., Salmoirago-Blotcher, E., Manson, J. E., Grodstein, F., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2022). Optimism, lifestyle, and longevity in a racially diverse cohort of women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 10.1111/jgs.17897. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.17897