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Upbeat Outlook Offsets Effects of Aging

Positive emotions improve physical, functional health of older adults

MONDAY, Sept. 13, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Positive thoughts can help older people maintain their physical and functional health, while negative emotions can cause a rapid decline, say two studies in the September issue of Psychology and Aging.

In the first study, University of Texas researchers tracked 1,558 older Mexican-Americans in five southwestern states for seven years. They found those with positive emotions were much less likely to become frail over that time.

Positive emotions may have a direct impact on health by influencing chemical and neural responses involved in maintaining homeostatic balance, the researchers suggest. Or positive emotions may indirectly affect health by increasing a person's physical, intellectual, psychological and social resources.

In the second study, North Carolina State University researchers found negative stereotypes about aging resulted in a decline of older adults' memory performance.

The study concluded that if older adults were treated like competent, productive people, then it's more likely that's how they would perform.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about emotions and health.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, Sept. 12, 2004
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