Does being happy benefit your heart?

If You’re Happy And You Know It, Clap Your Hands! Your Heart Is Probably Healthier

It turns out, Eric Idle might have been right, staying happy might even keep your heart healthier.

“When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble, give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best.”

Seven percent of Medical News Today readers reported in a survey that they always see the worst in every situation, while 41 percent claim they always look on the bright side of life. Are you happy? If you’re not, your health might suffer because of it.

Positive thinking can save your life, according to a growing body of evidence. Previous studies have shown greater longevity among breast cancer and HIV patients who implement positive thinking into their treatment plan. Meanwhile, recovery from, and surviving heart bypass surgery is increased among patients who choose to be happy and think positively. More research still needs to be done, but some scientists are claiming that in addition to positive thinking, simply being happy can heal.

Researchers from the Center for Healthy Aging and the Department of Biobehavioral Health followed more than 1,000 patients with coronary heart disease to see if being happy could improve the patients’ odds of recovery. The research team was led by Dr. Nancy Sin. The team measured physical activity, sleep habits, medication use, alcohol consumption, and smoking habits at baseline and then once more five years later. The team took into account demographic factors and the severity of the heart condition. As it turned out, happy people were more likely to be physical active, sleep better, and remember to take their medications. Happy people were also less likely to smoke, but happy people were no more or less likely to consume alcohol, interestingly. Being happy is associated with better health habits, and consequently, better heart health. Among the study participants, when people raised their level of happiness, the positive behavior also increased. Still, there are potentially numerous reasons why a happy mind makes for a happy heart, the researchers said.

Happy people seem to be better at maintaining routines while still being more flexible when it comes to adjusting health goals, being proactive with stress, and overcoming setbacks. This shouldn’t cause people to fear expressing their negative feelings though, because holding in negative thoughts is linked to negative consequences, the researchers say. They say that helping people maintain happiness and positive emotions is worth the effort on the part of medical professionals though, because being happy will benefit people with long-term health conditions. Dr. Sin wants to see interventions in the future that will improve health habits and helping people stay happy included in the plans, as well as electronic tracking of health behaviors, because if you can’t make a person happy, maybe you can at least make a person duplicate the behaviors of happy people. It’s almost like, “fake it, until you make it” to happiness and good heart health.

In the 2015 World Happiness Report, the U.S. ranked 15th, unfortunately. Happiness is of such importance that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an international agency, is working very hard to keep people happy and improve happiness in areas where people are not happy. When people are happy, there are economic benefits to society. This agency claims that the main six factors of keeping a society happy are: a nation’s wealth, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, trust (as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business), perceived freedom to make one’s own life decisions, and generosity.

Inquisitr readers, armed with this info, how happy would you say your heart is?

[Photo via Pixabay]

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