A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has proven that high levels of physical activity lead to happiness for the elderly. Dr. Andrew Steptoe, who is an expert in aging, told Nature World that older people are less likely to develop struggles in simple tasks such as getting out of bed or dressing, and they are able to walk better – their speed declining at a slower rate than older people who have less joy in life.
The study, which occurred every other year within an eight-year period, involved 3,199 women and men over the age of 60 in England. The participants were divided into three different age groups, 60-69, 70-79 and 80 years or older.
The study ranked life enjoyment based on responses to questions, including “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” and “On balance, I look back on my life with a sense of happiness.” Each was rated from 0 (never) to 3 (always).
The researchers also conducted personal interviews using a model used from a previous Health and Retirement Study. Participants were asked about their level of difficulties based on mental, emotional, physical or memory problems.
The new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal which proves that there is a link between high levels of physical activity and happiness for the elderly also assessed the speed of the individual via walking tests. Participants were asked to walk eight feet in their home, under supervision. Individuals with disabilities or health conditions were exempted from this part of the test. The study recorded the speed of 2,965 participants in the first year, and eight years later, 2,507 of those individuals completed the test. Those who did not return were more likely to have a lower enjoyment of life.
The study raised awareness of the known fact of how slow walking speed indicates not only frailty, but dementia, admission to a long-term health facility and death. However, the authors note that the study does not evaluate these findings. What their study did find was that people with low enjoyment of life had an 80 percent increase in acquiring two or more impairments over the eight years, and that the differences in walking speed are a crucial factor in decided this level of happiness.
The study confirmed basic knowledge: individuals with a better quality of life and happiness had higher wealth or education. Moreover, individuals who were married and working had more joy of life than those who were single and unemployed. The study also confirmed how participants with limiting illnesses, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stroke and chronic lung disease, all experienced lower level of enjoyment of life along with people who smoked, were physically inactive, and involved in daily alcohol consumption.
The new study in Canadian Medical Association Journal which proves there is a link between high levels of physical activity and happiness for the elderly recognized another study from England, which looked at aging over a four-year period, and whose results were similar. Both are evidence that there is a link between enjoying life and the physical well-being of the elderly. According to the authors of the study, this could, in turn, be of great benefit to society and health care systems.
By Kollin Lore