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How to stay young at heart, always

health and fitness Updated: Jul 20, 2011 18:25 IST
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Ever thought why some folk have a sunnier disposition and sharper mind in old age? Well, scientists have found that an optimistic and light-hearted outlook can be greatly beneficial for people, especially in their elderly days.

Scientists at Hamburg University have discovered that simply focusing on positive thoughts, and living for the moment, rather than looking too far into the future, can help maintain good mental health, the Daily Express reported Monday.

Previously, good genes, exercise and even completing crosswords were commonly cited as ways to keep one's brain young.

CoupleStudy author Stefanie Brassen says that successful ageing came down to "the positivity effect," which was "a biased tendency towards and preference for positive, emotionally gratifying experiences".

Her team conducted an experiment in which young and old were shown pictures of happy, sad, fearful or neutral faces. The old were much more engaged when they saw a happy face.

By scanning their brains, the team found high levels of activity associated with good mental health in the part of the brain that controls emotions.

Results published in the journal Biological Psychiatry suggest that staying happy and focusing on life's positives play key role in keeping your mind sharp.