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Happier people lead healthier lives

April 16, 2014

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for seniors requires that individuals place emphasis on monitoring both physical and emotional wellbeing. While diet is key to improving one's overall health, a number of recent studies have found that one of the biggest factors that may affect seniors is their attitude.

Happiness can be infectious, whether seniors are laughing with their friends or enjoying the splendor of the sunny weather. Scientists have studied the effect of positivity on overall health, finding that these individuals are not only likely to be happier in their daily lives, but also may live longer than their pessimistic counterparts.

Optimists have reduced risk for having heart disease 
A team of researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard University recently conducted a study to discover the connection between optimism and heart health, and found that adults over the age of 50 who were optimistic were significantly less likely to have heart failure than their more pessimistic peers. According to the findings, published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, participants who were more positive were 73 percent less likely to have heart problems over the course of the four-year investigation.

Eric Kim, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, spoke to Medical News Today about the research, detailing that along with exercise and proper diet, adopting a more positive mindset may be key to improving heart health. He added that people who are happier may also be more likely to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, but researchers have yet to examine that connection.

"As these two lines of research continue to grow, I think it would eventually be interesting to test if people who decide to participate in optimism interventions start acting in healthier ways and accumulate better health," Kim said. "More research is needed before we get to that point, but it's an intriguing idea."

Happier people experience lower stress levels
Improved cardiovascular health is not the only benefit to come through positive thinking. Mayo Clinic recently reported that optimists experience lower stress levels and higher self-confidence, especially in older adults. The source noted that positive individuals do not have to ignore the negatives occurrences in their lives or shy away from sadness, but instead they approach these situations with a more optimistic mindset. While some individuals may be prone to worrying about the worst, practicing positive thinking can help to greatly increase one's mental and physical health.