In examining health records on 53,000 Norwegian residents, segmented from the second Nor-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT 2), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) researchers have found that maintaining a sense of humor not only keeps people healthy, but helps to increase their longevity.

Sven Svebak and colleagues evaluated people’s sense of humor with three questions that reveal a person’s ability to understand humor and to think in a humorous way, finding that mortality was reduced by about 20 percent in subjects with high scores compared to people with low scores. In addition, subjects with the highest scores were twice as likely to survive the seven-year long follow-up period, as compared to those with the lowest scores. Svebak concludes: “There is reason to believe that sense of humor continues to have a positive effect on mental health and social life, even after people have become retirees, although the positive effect on life expectancy could not be shown after the age of 75. At that point, genetics and biological aging are of greater importance.”

References:

  1. Svebak, S., Romundstad, S., Holmen, J. “A seven-year prospective study of sense of humor and mortality in an adult county population: The HUNT-2 study.” The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 40, 125–46.

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