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|Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor|
It is commonly known that exercise and a balanced diet are important for maintaining good health as one ages. Now a recent study has found that “a sustainable mix of productive, social, physical and spiritual activities” is just as essential.
The research was conducted by scientists at the University of Southern California and published in The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health on June 2, 2011.
Participants in the study included 460 men and women between the ages of 65 and 90 (with a mean age of 74.9 years) living in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Over a period of 6 months, half of the group was given an occupational intervention therapy that focused on creating sustainable lifestyle changes. The other half was given no intervention at all.
The occupational intervention therapy included encouraging participants to leave the house and engage in the community around them. For example, researchers helped people learn how to use public transportation, urged them to visit museums and engage in cultural activities, and helped them integrate exercise into their daily routines.
The researchers measured quality of life using various indicators, including physical health, mental health, social well-being, and life satisfaction.
At the conclusion of the study, the occupational intervention therapy group showed significant gains in social function, mental health, and life satisfaction. They also reported less bodily pain and lower levels of depression when compared to the placebo group.
At the end of the 6 month trial period, the control group was then given the same occupational intervention therapy that had been given to the intervention group. The control group made identical progress after receiving the therapy.
This study highlights how important it is for mature adults to interact with the world around them. Even small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in maintaining health and quality of life as you age.
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