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Don’t Worry… Be Happy!

April 24, 2012

A recent study done by the Harvard School of Public Health has shown a correlation between overall optimism and hearth health.  The study shows that people who are generally happy and optimistic have a reduced risk for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events.  Author Julia Boehm researched over 200 medical studies surrounding heart disease before releasing the results of the study.  The study showed that the most optimistic participants were up to 50% less likely to suffer from a heart disease related event.

Boehm is careful to point out that there is a distinction between being content and being optimistic.  The study showed little difference if participants were just simply content.  She told HealthPop, “The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive.”  The researchers point out that not being depressed or sad does not mean you’re happy.

Improve your Outlook to Improve Your Health

You may be asking, what can I do to be more optimistic?  Generally speaking, there are very simple ways to improve your outlook on life.  For example, people who were found to have a better outlook on life tended to eat healthier, exercise more, and get more exposure to the sun (which is rich in Vitamin D).  All of these activities can release endorphins into the bloodstream giving people a more positive mood and outlook.

Now this brings up an interesting contradiction to the study… Were patient’s hearts improved by the patient’s positive outlook and demeanor, or were they healthier because they were generally more conscious of their health? Of course, the real question here is, does it matter?

For her part, Boehm acknowledged that there is no easy way to determine what the reason for heart health was in her study without additional research.  While the numbers seem to show a direct correlation between a positive outlook and heart health, there just isn’t enough evidence to prove it.  Of course, if someone told you that exercising and eating healthier would make you generally happier; and they also told you that being happier would improve your heart health; wouldn’t it just make sense to exercise and be happy?

The Importance of Hearth Health

The most recent statistics from the American Heart Association show that 2,200 Americans die every day from heart disease.  That is one person every 39 seconds.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States killing more than 599,000 people every year.  Given the risks associated with heart disease, being happy isn’t a high price to pay.  Don’t worry, be happy!  Go outside and exercise today.  Your heart will benefit from it.

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