November 1, 2011
Happy Life Equals Long Life: Study
According to new research by a team from University College, London, the happier someone is, the longer they will live.
Researchers studied 3,800 people from ages 52 to 79 and found that those who had the highest rating of happiness were significantly less likely to die in the following five years.
The team took impact of age, disease and lifestyle factors into account and still found that the happiest group had a 35 percent lower risk of death than the least happy.
"The happiness could be a marker of some other aspect of people's lives which is particularly important for health," Professor Andrew Steptoe, who led the study, said in a statement. "For example, happiness is quite strongly linked to good social relationships, and maybe it is things like that that are accounting for the link between happiness and health."
The team said their study took into account people's moods at four points on a particular day.
They said this reduced the risk that people's memories of how happy they had been would differ from reality and confound with the results, according to The Telegraph.
Happiness was measured by participants answering questions about themselves in several categories on a scale from one to five.
Positive affect was taken as a combination of people's self-reported scores for happiness, excitement and contentment.
"On a five point scale you could feel four points happy and two points worried at the same time. It is not a single dimension you are looking at, it is much more complicated than that," Steptoe said in a statement.
The researchers said that five years on from their assessment, just 3.6 percent of the happiest participants had died.
About 4.6 percent of those who were averagely happy, and 7.3 percent of the group with the lowest positive affect had died during the same time.
The researchers found after accounting for other medical factors that the happiest people were more than a third less likely to die.
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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