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How superheroes can help us stay healthy as we age, new study shows

Social engagement and physical activity are crucial for everyone, including superheroes

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

Regular physical exercise and strong social relationships are important for healthy aging even for superheroes, suggests new study.

It is critical for everyone to be able to stay healthy in later life. At a population level, environmental and socioeconomic factors determine ageing patterns, but data also underlines the importance of individual characteristics. Some of them, such as genetics, are unchangeable, while others can be altered.

Because superheroes are expected to live significantly longer than the average person, it is appropriate to consider their health and its links to aging trajectories and outcomes.

A new study published by the University of Queensland found that adopting superhero behaviors such as maintaining physical activity and having strong social relationships may help people live longer and healthier later in life.

Researchers looked at 24 Marvel movies distributed between 2008 and 2021 and related superhero lives, personality traits, and behaviors to healthy aging outcomes.

Professor Ruth Hubbard, Masonic Chair of Geriatric Medicine at the Centre for Health Services Research, explained that the study assumed that all Marvel superheroes would age (except Thor, who has lived for millennia) and that their aging trajectories would be influenced by modifiable behaviors, just like everyone else’s.

First, they looked at positive behaviors and health assets, and discovered that the superheroes regularly engage in physical activity and exercise, both of which are linked to healthy aging, as well as a high level of social cohesion and connectedness, both of which are linked to a lower risk of dementia.

“Our study found Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Black Panther and Spiderman engaged in regular physical activity and maintained strong social cohesion, which are associated with healthy ageing and reduced risk of dementia,” says Professor Hubbard.

“The superheroes displayed a positive mindset, psychological resilience and a sense of purpose, and all of them, except for Thor and Iron Man, avoided smoking and heavy drinking, which are also behaviours associated with longer life and healthy ageing.”

Black Panther and Iron Man were both highly affluent and brilliant, which put them at a lower risk of dementia, according to researchers.

“Black Panther was also a vegetarian, which supports healthy ageing,” she adds.

Next, the study looked at negative behaviors and dangers, finding that repeated exposure to loud noises, air pollution, and many head injuries put superheroes at risk for dementia, life-altering physical injury, and handicap.

Professor Hubbard claims that Hulk’s heart problems, high BMI, and frequent rage put him at risk for a variety of chronic ailments, and Black Widow’s terrible childhood experiences put her at danger for both physical and mental maladies.

“Spiderman’s strength, flexibility, and agility should reduce his risk of falls in old age, but his nightly crime fighting means he is unlikely to be sleeping 8-10 hours a night as recommended for teenagers his age, which can lead to obesity, poor mental health, and higher rates of unintentional injuries,” she further adds.

According to the researchers, the Marvel superheroes’ collective efforts to date have focused on protecting the multiverse’s safety, modulating human consciousness, developing artificial intelligence, and developing technologies to allow space travel.

“Together, the Marvel superheroes focus on maintaining safety of the multiverse, modulating human consciousness, creating artificial intelligence and developing technology to facilitate space travel.

However, they recommend that they shift their focus to addressing issues such as how to offer high-quality health and social care to big, aging populations, as well as how to avoid frailty and dementia. 

“Our study suggests they move their focus to dealing with challenges such as how to provide high quality health and social care across large, aging populations and preventing frailty and dementia.

“This would enable people across the multiverse, including superheroes, to experience high quality of life in older age.”

Source: https://www.bmj.com/content/375/bmj-2021-068001

Image Credit: Getty

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