Optimism and health

August 10, 2009 3:23:32 PM PDT
Having a positive outlook on life just may be the key to staying healthy. A new study suggests if you think pink, you have a better chance of being healthy than those who see the glass as always half empty. According to the study in the journal "Circulation," being an optimist may keep you out of the emergency room. Researchers looked at almost 100,000 women between the ages of 50-79 over an eight-year period. Those who had a positive outlook had a lower risk of heart disease and dying compared to pessimists. And one reason why could be how people handle stress. That's why heart doctors assess patients for stress.

"We have to assess them for depression and get an idea of how they deal with stress and whether they're an optimist or a pessimist," said Dr. Jennifer Mieres, with N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center.

Black women in the study were found to have twice the benefit from a good outlook as white women.

And a healthy outlook was not a health factor just for women. A Dutch study recently showed that men who were optimistic had lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The takeaway advice is don't be so pessimistic! You may not be able to change your outlook so quickly, but do what you can to reduce stress. Things like exercising, meditating or just watching standup comedy for 10 minutes can help. And smile. Pyschologists say it's not only true that you smile when you're happy, but that you can reverse that and be happy when you smile.


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