Scientists find the key to optimal aging

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What are the keys to “successful” or optimal aging?

In a study from the University of Toronto, scientists found the key to optimal aging.

They followed more than 7000 middle-aged and older Canadians for approximately three years to identify the factors linked to well-being as we age.

They found that those who were female, married, physically active and not obese and those who had never smoked, had higher incomes, and who did not have insomnia, heart disease or arthritis, were more likely to maintain excellent health across the study period and less likely to develop disabling cognitive, physical, or emotional problems.

As a baseline, the researchers selected participants who were in excellent health at the start of the approximately three-year period of study.

This included the absence of memory problems or chronic disabling pain, freedom from any serious mental illness and absence of physical disabilities that limit daily activities—as well as the presence of adequate social support and high levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

The team found there was variation in the prevalence of successful aging based on the respondent’s age at the beginning of the study.

Three-quarters of the respondents who were aged 55 to 64 at the start of the study period maintained excellent health throughout the study.

Among those aged 80 and older, approximately half remained in excellent health.

Older adults who were obese were less likely to maintain good health in later life. Compared to older adults who were obese, those who had a normal weight were 24% more likely to age optimally.

Income was also an important factor. Only about half of those below the poverty line aged optimally compared to three-quarters of those living above the poverty line.

Lifestyle factors are linked to optimal health in later life. Older adults who never smoked were 46% more likely to maintain an excellent state of health compared to current smokers.

Previous studies showed that quitting smoking in later life could improve survival statistics, pulmonary function, and quality of life; lower rates of coronary events and reduce respiratory symptoms.

The study found that former smokers did as well as those who had never smoked, underscoring that it is never too late to quit.

The study also found that engaging in physical activity was important in maintaining good health in later life.

Older adults who engaged in moderate to strenuous physical activity were 35% to 45% more likely to age well, respectively.

The findings indicated that respondents who never or rarely experienced sleep problems at baseline were 29% more likely to maintain excellent health across the study.

If you care about aging, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19 and death, and MIND diet may help lower death risk in older people.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that patience could increase your longevity, and results showing vitamin D supplements strongly reduce risk of cancer death.

The study was conducted by Mabel Ho et al and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

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