Why being positive can add years to your life

Those who choose to look at the glass half full may be doing their general health a world of good…

While sentences like that may sound like a broken record, new research from the University of Illinois has been published claiming that those who have a sunny disposition are twice as likely to have a healthier cardiovascular system.

During the study of 5000 US adults, the research found that those who were positive were in better shape than their gloomier counterparts.

It makes sense – exercise is known to increase mental wellbeing and those with an increased life satisfaction had significantly better blood sugar, healthier cholesterol readings and were more physically active.

Most of us are well aware of what causes heart disease. We get told all the time that high blood pressure, smoking and high blood cholesterol are exceptionally large factors in heart disease. Blood pressure and cholesterol can be easily fixed with a healthy diet and moderate exercise, but the trick is getting people to have the motivation to change their unhealthy lifestyle.

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Rosalba Hernandez, Professor of Social Work at the university, said that changing their lifestyle could be done by treating underlying mental health issues.

This would in turn boost people’s mental wellbeing and help, in part, to change unhealthy eating and smoking habits. “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”.

It means that by addressing mental health concerns, health experts may be able to increase optimism levels within people and change their life for the better. This in turn will take a big strain off already overcrowded medical systems.

What do you think? Is your general wellbeing connected to optimism? Let us know in the comments below