Longevity Favors the Positively Old

We know that positive people often seem younger and sprier than their same-aged counterparts. In a 2002 study referenced on About.com, the results show that how you perceive aging can actually affect how long you will live. In a study of 660 people, those with more positive perceptions of their own aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer. This effect remained after other factors such as age, gender, income, loneliness and health status were controlled.

Here is a brief list of the number of years that each of these health factors are believed to add:

  • low blood pressure: 4 years
  • low cholesterol readings: 4 years
  • healthy weight: 1-3 years
  • not smoking: 14 years
  • regular exercise: 1-3 years

Source: Levy BR, et al. Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2002 Aug; 83(2):261-70.

Interestingly enough, this same study indicates that healthy perceptions of aging while young can have a tremendous impact on life expectancy. I believe it! I have a friend who likes to say that his father died at 72 and therefore he will as well. And there’s a good chance his prediction will come true…if he believes it strongly enough. While genetics can influence or predispose people to certain diseases and life patterns, we’re all in control of our destinies. If we believe we’re old at 50 or 75, we probably will act in accordance, and create a self-fulfilling prophecy

On the other hand, if we think young, we’re more apt to feel young. My mother, who gave birth to me when she was almost 40, was doing cartwheels with the girls on the block when I was little. While my parents were in their late 70s, they were running up and down the stairs in our house. In fact, my dad purposely built stairs in the house he built in his mid-50s so they wouldn’t lose their ability to climb them. Thank God I was never raised with the concept that getting older was a crippling eventuality.

To tell the truth, I’ve always been more focused on healthy aging than added years. I want to be living pain-free into my 90s and see no reason why I shouldn’t. That’s why every day I spend some time focused on my mental and physical health. After all, if I’m going to live to be positively old, why not enjoy every minute of it.

How about you? How old do you think you’ll live to be and what does that age look and feel like in your mind’s eye? Careful…what you see could be what you get!

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Comments
8 Responses to “Longevity Favors the Positively Old”
  1. Ed Callahan says:

    Very nice. Very good points. Love the graphics.

  2. I think being positive about life not only makes it more fun and enjoyable, but does extend your life span. I have so many projects and things I want to do that I hope to live into my 90s and beyond. We’ll still be kicking up our heels, Karen, and giggling over our new scripts and boyfriends, LOL.

    • Evelyn, as the Happiness Guru and someone who is definitely living the Positively Old lifestyle, I know you will. Now our big questions will be: what to do for our 100th birthday? Perhaps we’ll have to create a special party planning business just for that somewhere in our 90s. What fun!

  3. Given the genes, lifestyle and current joy, I’m looking at the 80s.

  4. doug hay says:

    Agreed. A positive attitude is what keeps us seniors being involved and productive. Life is a game and it is there for everyone to play as long as they want.

  5. chris spicher says:

    Karen very positive, if you need another photo of older persons you can use ours, look fwd to your next post.

    • You and Lors and your mom are the people who inspired my blog site; I consider all three of you glowing role models. Thanks for taking the time to comment and I hope to interview your mom soon for the site’s first interview feature. Tell her to et her gardener shoes on! And thanks to the three of you for being who you are.

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