Optimism may help women maintain physical function | News

Optimism may help women maintain physical function | News

April 3, 2024 — An optimistic attitude may help women slow age-related physical decline, according to a recent study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In a study of postmenopausal women, the researchers found that those who reported higher levels of optimism showed healthier functioning on two performance measures—number of times they were able to stand up from a chair without using their hands during 15-second trials, and grip strength—compared to women who reported less optimism. They also had slower rates of decline in walking speed and number of chair stands over six years of follow up.

There are several possible explanations for a link between optimism and better physical functioning, first author Hayami Koga, postdoctoral research fellow in the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, said in a March 20 Newsweek article. Optimistic people may be more likely to stay physically active and eat a healthier diet, and to engage in social activities, she said.

“There may also be some neurobiological reasons,” Koga said. “For example, those with higher optimism may have healthier lipid, immune, or autonomic functioning that may lead to better physical functioning over time.”

Positivity is also thought to protect against the inflammatory damage of stress, according to the article.

Read the Newsweek article: Optimism May Help Women Stay Mobile in Older Age

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An optimistic outlook may be a healthier one (Harvard Chan School news)

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