Leaving the House Everyday Linked to Longer Life for Seniors
A new study in Israel discovered that older adults who leave their home every day are likely to live longer than those who don’t — regardless of their health or mobility issues.
The researchers noted that the act of getting outside of the home provides many opportunities to engage with the world, which may promote exposure to an array of beneficial experiences.
“What is interesting is that the improved survival associated with getting out of the house frequently was also observed among people with low levels of physical activity, and even those with impaired mobility,” said Dr. Jeremy Jacobs of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem. “Resilient individuals remain engaged, irrespective of their physical limitations.”
Jacobs and the research team examined data on 3,375 adults at ages 70, 78, 85 and 90 who were enrolled in the Jerusalem Longitudinal Study. They divided the participants into three groups based on their answers to queries about how often they left home: rarely (once a week or less), often (two to five times per week) and frequently (six or seven days per week).
The results showed seniors who daily left their home had the lowest mortality risk, while those who rarely left their home had the highest risk of death. For instance, 78-year-olds who left their home daily had a 28-percent higher likelihood of reaching the age of 85 than those who left their home only once a week. Leaving the home even appeared to offer a considerable benefit for 90 year olds, as those who left their home daily were 26 percent more likely to reach the age of 95 than those who rarely left home. Surprisingly, the findings remained even after factoring in medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease and heart disease.
“We saw similar benefits you’d expect from treating blood pressure or cholesterol with medicine. Social factors are important in the process of aging. We included people who had mobility difficulties, so this isn’t just about people moving their legs up and down,” said Jacobs. “That’s quite exciting. There’s something about interacting with the world outside that helps.”
Advantages of Leaving Home Frequently
Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the study has implications for approximately 2 million seniors who rarely or never leave their home due to functional deficits. Their physical health suffers due to the lack of exercise, and based on earlier research, they’re more vulnerable to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Moreover, spending time in a natural environment is linked to reduced stress, and leaving the home increases opportunities for social interactions, which are associated with better general health in the elderly.
The study underscores the value of staying engaged with life. Simple things like taking a daily walk, going to the grocery store, browsing in the local shops, eating out with a friend or chatting with a neighbor are all beneficial. Being outside provides multisensory experiences such as feeling the warmth of the sunshine, hearing the cheerful twittering of birds and seeing flowers and plants. In addition, the factors involved in human interactions, including eye contact, exchanging a few pleasant words and sharing thoughts and feelings can ease loneliness and promote a sense of wellbeing.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.