How many times have you and I been told that excessive smoking, drinking, and being overweight will negatively impact our health? Now, new research suggests there are other factors that may be even more influential when it comes to protecting our health as we age.
1) Do you have a sense that you can influence important life outcomes?
2) Do you have supportive social relationships in your life?
3) Do you exercise?
New research, conducted by Brandeis University’s Lifespan Developmental Psychological Laboratory, explores the psychological roots of health and finds that with positive influences in place– the protective role of psychological and social supports, a person’s sense of how much they can influence important life outcomes, and physical exercise, a person could delay declines in health up to a decade!
The Midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS) study, involves 3,626 adults aged 32 to 84 who were assessed over two periods about 10 years apart. Findings of the study, conducted by Margie E. Lachman Ph.D., the Director of the Lab and Stefan Agrigoroaei Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher, indicate that physical exercise, social support, and control beliefs, individually and in combination, are significant predictors of change in functional health, above and beyond the negative effects of the traditional risk factors (i.e. excessive smoking, drinking, and being overweight). These specific psychological, social, and physical protective factors are associated with better health in later life.
“Control beliefs” refer to a person’s sense of how much they can influence important life outcomes. Those who have a greater sense of control are more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviors, such as getting exercise and eating right. Supportive social relationships can promote health by reducing stress and encouraging healthy behaviors.
I love this study! It validates every single thing we’re doing together here in the A Weigh Out Circle!
1) We’re getting and feeling more and more empowered; believing more and more that we can create the life we say we want.
2) The Circle offers supportive social relationships–we’re people who understand and are here to help! Our Empowerment Forum can be a powerful tool for overcoming emotional and binge eating! (Listen to what Dr. Mary Boggiano says she has learned in her lab, from her research rats, about the life and death importance of social connection.)
3) If you’re living in the new health paradigm, “Health at Every Size“; focused on being emotionally, physically, nutritionally, and spiritually healthy, hopefully you’re feeling encouraged to add some physical activity into your day (even if it’s one flight of stairs or walking the dog).
Here’s to living healthier and happier!!!
The Brandeis research is reported in an article “Promoting Functional Health in Midlife and Old Age: Long-Term Protective Effects of Control Beliefs, Social Support, and Physical Exercise,” just published in PlosOne. The research was supported by The National Institute on Aging
Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating issues. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, email@example.com