Elderly people who feel happy live longer than those who do not. The lower death rate is probably due to the fact that happy people get more exercise, smoke less and fall ill less often.
This finding has emerged from research by Wageningen epidemiologist Marianne Geleijnse and Leiden medical researchers. They studies one thousand Arnhem residents aged between 65 and 85. Their results will come out next month in the Journal of Happiness Studies.
The researchers asked the senior citizens in Arnhem over the course of fifteen years how happy they felt and how often they laughed. They also monitored the death rate among them. This was significantly lower among the people who described themselves as happy. But once the figures had been corrected for the amount of exercise and smoking and the presence of illness, the correlation between happiness and death was no longer clearcut. But happiness in later life does go together with a healthy lifestyle and vitality, and all these things combined contribute to a longer life.