London, Jan 21 (IANS): Enjoying life as you grow old not only makes you happy, it also helps you walk faster and stay fit.
Older people who enjoy life more show slower declines in physical function as they age in comparison with people who enjoy life less, says a study.
“Our research shows that older people enjoying life are less likely to develop impairments in activities of daily living such as dressing or getting in or out of bed, and their walking speed declines at a slower rate than those who enjoy life less,” said Andrew Steptoe from University College London (UCL), Britain.
A study of 3,199 men and women aged 60 years or over looked at the link between positive well-being and physical well-being - following participants over eight years.
Researchers assessed participants' enjoyment of life with a four-point scale: "I enjoy the things that I do", "I enjoy being in the company of others", "On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness" and "I feel full of energy these days".
“Our results provide further evidence that enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people,” Steptoe added.
Participants in the 60-69-year bracket had higher levels of well-being as did those with higher socio-economic status and education and those who were married and working.
Not surprisingly, people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and depression had lower levels of enjoyment of life, the study noted.
People with low well-being were more than three times as likely as their positive counterparts to develop problems in their daily physical activities.
Efforts to enhance well-being at older ages may have benefits to society and health care systems, said the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.