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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2003 Mar;58(2):S74-82.

The relation between everyday activities and successful aging: a 6-year longitudinal study.

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Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.



Activity has long been thought to be related to successful aging. This study was designed to examine longitudinally the relation between everyday activities and indicators of successful aging, namely well-being, function, and mortality.


The study was based on the Aging in Manitoba Study, with activity being measured in 1990 and function, well-being, and mortality assessed in 1996. Well-being was measured in terms of life satisfaction and happiness; function was defined in terms of a composite measure combining physical and cognitive function.


Regression analyses indicated that greater overall activity level was related to greater happiness, better function, and reduced mortality. Different activities were related to different outcome measures; but generally, social and productive activities were positively related to happiness, function, and mortality, whereas more solitary activities (e.g., hand-work hobbies) were related only to happiness.


These findings highlight the importance of activity in successful aging. The results also suggest that different types of activities may have different benefits. Whereas social and productive activities may afford physical benefits, as reflected in better function and greater longevity, more solitary activities, such as reading, may have more psychological benefits by providing a sense of engagement with life.

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