Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy-well vs. Sad-sick

Harvard researchers say the choice is mostly up to you. Some sixty years ago, they began to study successful aging in several hundred college sophomores. This satisfying outcome was gauged in those who made it to their 70's as follows: four objective variables--physical health, mental health, social support network, and years of active life, and two self-reported measurements--life satisfaction and personal assessment of physical health. High-scorers were dubbed the 'happy-well' and, obviously, the losers were the 'sad-sick.' The real losers were actually the prematurely dead but that was not a measured end-point. So what were the most significant predictors of successful aging?

Avoidance of alcohol and cigarette abuse before age 50 followed by education and exercise. These top four healthy behaviors were rounded out by stable marriage, appropriate weight, and positive coping mechanisms--all deemed by the study authors to be at least partially under individual control. Of those factors deemed to be beyond a person's control, only the diagnosis of depression significantly affected the quality of aging.

3 comments:

Laura in L.A. said...

Okay, I don't smoke or drink, I'm a college grad, and I think I have decent coping mechanisms. However, I'm between husbands and I could exercise more and lose some weight. :) Hmmm. I'm still going to try to be among the happy-well and not the premature dead!

KGMom said...

I am definitely in the happy-well category. Oh, sure, I have mild hypertension, well controlled by meds, and I have a blood sugar that hovers around 100, which I address by diet.
But I am definitely happy-well.
Thanks for the reinforcement.

Mauigirl said...

Oh, heck, I'm screwed. I smoked for 7 years in my younger days, drank my wine fairly heavily up until 3 years ago at age 51 when I quit; I'm 30 lbs. overweight...

But I do have positive coping mechanisms! LOL!