Finding ways to improve your overall psychological outlook may have a positive effect on your heart, according to a recent review published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Positive people fared better in many components of heart health
The review looked at how mental well-being affects the seven components of heart health, as defined by the American Heart Association (AHA). These include eating a proper diet, getting physical activity, not smoking, and having healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, as well as a healthy body mass index (BMI).
The researchers found that, in general, people with a positive outlook tended to have lower blood pressure levels and healthier cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They were also less likely to smoke and more likely to eat a healthy diet and exercise.
Social connections and reduced stress may play a role
Although it’s not entirely clear how optimism and heart health are connected, the researchers believe optimistic people may have greater buffers against stress, a factor in heart disease risk. For example, they may have stronger social support and a larger network of friends to draw from during difficult times.
Here are some ideas to strengthen your own positive outlook:
- Try mindfulness training, such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation. These activities have been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Adopt habits to increase your optimism. Try making a list of what you’re grateful for or identifying and building on your personal strengths.
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