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Positive emotions powerful for good health with aging

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Positive emotions are good for health and can improve quality of life with aging, finds a study review.

Anthony Ong of Cornell University reviewed studies showing how maintaining a positive attitude can relieve stress, pain, and illness, influencing health outcomes in later adulthood.

The review highlights how positive emotions can protect from disease and poor health later in life. “We all age. It is how we age, however, that determines the quality of our lives,” says Ong who found several pathways responsible for good health that comes from positivity.

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He explains happier people take time for a good night's sleep, exercise, and remain proactive about engaging in risky health behaviors such as smoking that adds up later in life as disease susceptibility increases and physical capacity declines.

Keeping emotions positive can lower chemicals in the body that contribute to disease and released by stress, found by Ong in the study review. Indeed studies show optimism lowers the chances of heart disease, while depression and isolation shorten lifespan.

He says positive emotions extend life and improve quality of living in measurable ways. Ong says he became interested in a phenomenon called the "paradox of aging" as a graduate student. When physical capacity declines, emotional capacity remains the same. Maintaining an optimistic and positive attitude is something Ong translates to being good for health.

APS Press Release