Why your heart wants you to turn that frown upside down

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Optimism leads to better heart health

Researchers have published findings that optimistic people have better heart health compared to pessimists. Turning your frown upside down just might help you live longer.

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Scientists at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaigne found the association between heart health and being update when they studied the association among 5100 adults.

Lead author Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois said in a press release that optimists seem to have double the odds of better heart health than pessimists, even when other factors are taken into account.

A happy outlook extends life

The researchers found optimists are more physically active, have better cholesterol levels than pessimists, were less likely to smoke and had lower body mass index. Happier individuals were fifty-five percent more likely to have total health scores in the intermediate range, the investigators found.

The study

Participants for the study, published in the January/February 2015 issue of Health Behavior and Policy Review, were asked to answer questions related to mental health. They also were assessed according to the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 public awareness campaign.that includes:

  • Healthy eating
  • Being active
  • Losing weight
  • Tobacco cessation or avoidance
  • Cholesterol control
  • Keeping blood sugar in check
  • Managing blood pressure

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Ideal health from a positive outlook

When the researchers compared the participants' heart health to their level of optimism they found cardiovascular health and optimism went hand-in-hand. Optimistic people were 76 percent more likely to have health scores in the ideal range.

When the researchers factored in age, socioeconomic status, education and ethnicity, the link between a rosy outlook on life and heart health became even stronger. Hernandez said the finding is important, explaining...."even this moderate difference in cardiovascular health translates into a significant reduction in death rates." The researchers says the AHA could use the data to help Americans improve their heart health.

The finding is believed to the first that links optimism to heart health among such a large and diverse group of study participants. The study included multi-ethnic and racial groups, ranging in age from 45 to 84.

Related:

One simple thing you can do to feel happier
What negativity reveals about mental health
How do positive emotions affect health?

Image credit: Pixabay

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