Extend Your Life by Enjoying Your Life

Extend Your Life by Enjoying Your Life

An important four-year longitudinal study done by a group of scientists from England, and reported in the esteemed BMJ, found that subjective (perceived) wellbeing and enjoyment has the positive effect of extending our life on an average of 7.3 years. Mortality was inversely associated with the number of occasions on which participants reported high enjoyment of life. Interestingly, the study showed a reduced risk of all causes of mortality (i.e., baseline illness, depression, smoking, physical activity, etc.) and the incidence of specific conditions such as coronary heart disease.

Previously, other studies have assessed subjective wellbeing on one occasion (i.e., a single period of wellbeing). But this study looked at a longer exposure. The more the exposure to an experience of wellbeing the better one’s chances are for a longer life.

The following is quoted directly for the article:

What is already known on this topic

  • Subjective wellbeing (feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction with life) has been associated with greater longevity in longitudinal population studies
  • Previous studies have measured wellbeing on a single occasion, and the importance of sustained wellbeing is not known

What this study adds

  • In the present study, a dose-response association was seen between sustained positive wellbeing over several years and all cause mortality
  • These effects remained significant after adjusting statistically not only for demographic and health status, but also adjusting for physical functional impairment and depressive symptoms

Hopefully the “so what” is obvious to us. If we are grumpy, anxious, and depressed people we will likely die sooner than later. If we enjoy life and experience wellbeing, even when the health foibles of life come our way, we will live longer…and better. Positive change IS under our control.

Tim Berry


BMJ 2016; 355 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6267 (Published 13 December 2016)

Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6267



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