New Study: Look Forward to Old Age.

Lots to be happy about. More than 25 years ago, John Jolliff and Des Smith were the first gay couple to legally tie the knot in a civil union in New Zealand.

A new study, led by Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, analyzed lifestyle and health patterns in more than 10,000 people in the UK and United States.

The study had many interesting findings. For one, it found that people become happier as the move into older age – despite their deteriorating bodies and any weight gain. Researchers hypothesize that happiness levels follow something of a “U” curve, bottoming out in the mid-40s. After that, for whatever reasons, people tend to get much happier.

It’s unclear why this increase in happiness happens. Maybe older people have better coping mechanisms for dealing with hardship? Maybe older folks they put less pressure on themselves to perform in professional settings? Or maybe, with age, we learn not to sweat the small stuff. Whatever the reason, old populations have much higher happiness levels than their middle-aged counterparts.

The study also looked at exercise – and there was an interesting divide between American men and women. For women, low levels of physical exercise didn’t seem to affect mental well-being. For men, on the other hand, a lack of exercise had a large negative impact on their mental quality of life. But before women discount exercise entirely, it’s worth noting that the physical benefits of exercise – for both sexes – are substantial.

In addition, the study looked at the variable of sleep. Participants that slept, on average, between six and eight hours tended to have better physical and mental health scores than participants who slept less than six or more than eight.

Lastly, researchers found that wealthier US participants reported better mental and physical quality of life. This wasn’t true for UK participants. Researchers speculate that this may be due to universal health care in the UK – which could have a leveling factor.

What’s the takeaway? Look forward to old age, exercise and sleep well.

Were you surprised by any of the findings? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. Another factor that is worth mentioning is that as we aged we are more likely to become less conflict oriented as opposed to when we are younger. When we are younger and a conflict arises, we tend to want to resolve conflict with conflict. On the other hand, older people strive to feel loving, competent, and good and this is a factor that changes the outcome of any situation where conflict would’ve been the best answer in another time.

  2. Not surprised at all. I’m 65. Work out 41/2 hrs per week. If I don’t get my exercise I’m a grump and I don’t sleep or eat well. When nothing gets in the way of that I’m fine.

    Older people have their worries too. Instead of fretting about that promotion you worry about having enough money and health to enjoy life. But I think it’s easier to keep in perspective and live a day at a time.

  3. Just a note: while it would have been nice, Civil Union hasn’t been available in New Zealand for the past 25 years. The acts allowing it legally were only introduced in 2005. Even still, congrats to the couple in the photo.

  4. live fast.. die young.. leave a beautiful corpse! wait, what?

  5. Happy people tends to live further than those sad. We really do not need studies and findings to prove this, as when a person is always sad and lonely he sure is undergoing stress which is a big factor in ones health. I read a story Even if the other woman is older (85 y.o) while the other is just 65, the older woman tends to be more healthier and active, it is because of her active lifestyle and interaction with other people that makes her happy and contented.