At this festive time of year I was happy to read about a study reported in the British Medical Journal by researchers at University College London that linked happiness to health in middle age.
Experts from University College London tracked more than 9,000 men and women in their 50s and 60s, living in England.
The report found:
” Over-50s who consistently enjoy life have a 24 percent reduced risk of dying in the next seven years.
The scientists suspect this may be because someone’s general mood alters the levels of harmful and beneficial hormones in their body. Being happy reduces stress and anxiety hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can be a burden on the heart and raise blood pressure.
The authors, writing in the British Medical Journal, said they could not be sure there was a direct biological link between happiness and mortality, as their study was merely observational.
But they said if two main factors could be at play.
‘Firstly, enjoyment of life might exert an influence through associations with healthy lifestyle,’ they wrote.
‘Physical activity, not smoking, and healthy diet have been related to positive wellbeing, while healthcare and self-care behaviours might also be relevant.
‘Secondly … subjective wellbeing has been correlated with low concentrations of cortisol in everyday life, with low levels of inflammatory markers in some studies, and with changes in expression of genes regulating inflammation and antibody synthesis.’
People who are happier may also get more sleep, they said, which has a beneficial impact on their immune and metalobic systems.
While the study could not conclude a direct biological link between happiness and mortality, researchers noted that their observational study could indicate a correlation
‘These processes might contribute to a broad range of health outcomes,’ the UCL team concluded.”
So I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a healthy, happy 2017.