Have you ever wondered why, after the election, most presidents look ten years older? President Obama’s hair turned a shade of deep grey rather quickly after he was elected! This may be due to an increase in mortality rate, according to a new study published this month in BMJ.
The study’s lead author, Anupam Jena, an associate professor at the Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts, along with colleagues, examined 540 presidential and prime minister candidates. Among the participants, 279 candidates had won their campaigns, and 261 were runners-up. The analysis included 17 countries, with the oldest case study being a 1722 United Kingdom parliament election, according to the study.
The researchers adjusted for the life expectancy of the presidents, government heads, and runners-up, and found that those elected into the top seat lived 2.7 fewer years than those who came in second. The study also found that presidents and elected leaders had a 23 percent higher overall mortality risk.
“The increase in mortality among those leading a nation, relative to others in politics, may stem from the greater responsibility and stress of the job,” Jena told Fox News Health. “The decisions are more impactful, the spotlight is greater, and I suspect the job is even more strenuous.”
The researchers who conducted the study also found that U.S. presidents lived 5.7 fewer years than their opponents who never took office. Jena noted that stress may be a key factor as to why presidents and government heads tend to have a higher mortality rate. “Reducing stress would arguably slow the acceleration of aging but may not fully reverse it,” Jena told reporters.
Stress has been a widely studied risk factor for aging and increased health problems. You do not need to be elected president to have high stress triggers in your career. A study published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (2002) examined stress, aging, and risk for health problems in police officers 50 years of age or older.
The study’s participants were in the age range of most U.S. presidents, and it is no secret that police officers often have high levels of stress on the job. The study found that, “older workers in high-stress jobs may be at increased risk for work stress-related health problems, especially if they rely on risky health behaviors to cope with stress.”
According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress may lead to a variety of health problems, including coronary diseases, an increased cardiovascular risk, and depression, among other illnesses.
The great news is, there are plenty of ways you can reduce stress and possibly age more gracefully. According to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine (2000), meditation reduced stress symptoms by 31 percent, and “total mood disturbance” by 65 percent. Filling up your water bottle more often is another suggested way to age more gracefully. Since the human body requires hydration for maximum performance, give it what it craves.
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet is another exceptional way to possibly slow the aging process and stay happy and healthy for much longer. Olive oil, wild-caught fish, nuts, blueberries, and even a moderate consumption of dark chocolate and wine may all have age-defying properties.
How does your daily routine help slow aging and keep you healthy and happy?
Stephen Seifert is a writer, professor, adventurer and a health & fitness guru. His flair for travel and outdoor adventure allows him to enjoy culture and traditions different than his own. A healthy diet, routine fitness and constant mental development is the cornerstone to Stephen’s life.