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Being optimistic can help you live longer

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Having a positive outlook increases your chances of living beyond the age of 90 by 10 percent, say researchers from Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.  Overall, the most optimistic have a 5.4 percent longer lifespan than pessimists.

The researchers assessed the impact of optimism on longevity in a study that involved nearly 160,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, and those with the most optimistic outlook were compared to the most pessimistic.

Optimism appears to have a direct influence on longevity even after healthy lifestyle factors, such as regular exercise and eating well, have been ruled out.  

Most of the participants were black or from other ethnic groups, and the results are especially significant because these communities usually have poorer longevity than more affluent white populations, said researcher Hayami Koga. “Our research suggests that the benefits of optimism may hold across diverse groups,” she said.

In earlier research, the Harvard team found that optimism increased the chances of ‘exceptional longevity’, defined as living beyond the age of 85, in white populations.

(Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2022; do: 10.1111/jgs.17897)

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