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Being optimistic can help you live longer, a new study finds

The research suggests that having a positive attitude could keep you living to 85 and beyond.

The study suggests that a positive outlook could increase a lifespan by 15%.
The study suggests that a positive outlook could increase a lifespan by 15%.
Image: Shutterstock/simona pilolla 2

HAVING A POSITIVE attitude could potentially add years to your life. 

A new study suggests that people have a better chance of reaching 85 or older if they have an optimistic mindset.

Researchers at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences studied data from two previous long-standing projects of a group of female nurses and a group of men from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study.

The women were first followed in 2004 and then for the next 10 years, while the men were first studied in 1986 and followed until 2016. 

About 70,000 women and 1,429 men took part, says the Guardian, and were split into groups based on their scores for optimism in a series of questions they answered.

Comparisons were then made between the most optimistic with the least, adding in factors like age, sex, race, diet, alcohol use, education, and health conditions.

Even in spite of those various factors, the research found that optimism played a role in participants having a longer life.

Results showed that women who were most optimistic had a lifespan that was close to 15% longer than those women were the least optimistic.

With the study group of men they found that the figure was 11%.

The majority of those who undertook the study were white and did not come from low socioeconomic status, which suggests that other studies would need to be done to see if the findings would be similar in other groups.

“Other research suggests that more optimistic people may be able to regulate emotions and behavior as well as bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively,” said senior author Laura Kubzansky via the Science Daily.

Researchers though are unclear on how being optimistic can lead to a longer life but say say it may be an important psychological resource for extending life span in older adults.

Previous studies have suggested that having a positive outlook can help with coronary heart disease and mortality. 

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