The Harvard Study of Adult Development
The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest studies of adult life ever done, started following the lives of 724 teenagers in the 1930s. For the past 78 years, researchers used questionnaires, interviews, medical records, scans of their blood and brains, as well as monitored their physical and mental health, work lives, friendships, and romances to determine what makes a happy and healthy life.
Research Backed Ways to a Happy, Healthy Life
- Coping effectively with stress plays a big role: This study found that those who managed stress and relieved anxiety in healthy ways, such as working out or facing their stressors directly, were far healthier than those who chose to ignore their stressors and participate in activities like watching TV or having a drink to relieve anxiety. They also found that people who use more adaptive coping mechanisms end up with brains that stay sharper for much longer.
- Breaking bad habits early makes a difference: Watching the participants’ smoking habits revealed that those who never smoked or quite smoking early on in life were less likely to develop lung cancer and lived longer than those who never quite or quite later in life. Getting off the couch and incorporating exercise early in life led to participants staying healthy longer, their brain stayed sharper, and their immune systems were stronger. as compared to those who weren’t active or broke their sedentary lifestyle habits later in life.
- Spending time with family and friends is important: Being around family and friends proved to be a major source of happiness during all life stages. Being social is also a great way to combat stress and helps improve overall health. Quality time spent with one’s partner even showed to buffer against mood swings and stress, as well.
To learn more about this study, visit www.adultdevelopmentstudy.org.