Good news for those with a sunny outlook on life. A new study is linking optimism with increased heart health. Researchers concluded that people who have an optimistic approach have significantly better cardiovascular health.
And now we wait for the avalanche of new age books promising the world if you just think it. Wasn’t this what ‘The Secret’ was about?
This is not the first study to link optimism with a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. A Harvard University study in 2012 had similar findings, linking optimism and overall satisfaction with life with lowered risk of heart attacks.
The University of Illinois study analyzed the mental health, physical health and levels of optimism of over 5,100 adults, aged 45 to 84. Those participants with higher levels of optimism had higher heart health scores – a metric from the American Heart Association.
Participants who had the highest levels of optimism were 50 to 76 percent more likely to have their health scores fall in the intermediate or ideal ranges. The optimists also had better blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
The study’s optimists were also more likely to be physically active, healthier body mass index and less likely to smoke. Guess the mantra of think your way to health leads to actually doing something about it.
Lead author Rosalba Hernandez talked about the correlation, even after adjusting for external factors.
“Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts. This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”
“This evidence, which is hypothesized to occur through a biobehavioral mechanism, suggests that prevention strategies that target modification of psychological well-being — e.g., optimism — may be a potential avenue for AHA to reach its goal of improving Americans’ cardiovascular health by 20 percent before 2020.”
So, a smile a day may not keep the doctor away, but it can lead you to taking the appropriate steps towards health. How do you become more optimistic? I seriously doubt the optimists in the study were cable news junkies. It can’t hurt to start there.