Are physical health and emotional health related?

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Are Physical Health and Emotional Health Related?

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With rates of obesity and heart disease reaching very high levels in the US, researchers are questioning whether there are other, non-physical factors affecting the heart health of our nation. Of course, diet and exercise is proven to improve cardiovascular health, but what about having a positive outlook on life? A recent article published in Health Behavior and Policy Review may suggest that people who are optimistic have better cardiovascular health than those who are not optimistic.

These findings seem to provide a link between our emotional health and physical health. It is natural to see that many people who are physically unhealthy also suffer from psychological distress, but is it possible that this phenomenon works the other way around?

In this study researchers used optimism as a measure of psychological well being, assessing the responses of over 5000 people in a standardized test of optimistic and pessimistic statements. From these results participants were grouped based on optimism and then compared based on measures of heart health. This included information such as body mass index (BMI), smoking status, dietary and physical activity routines, blood pressure, fasting glucose levels and cholesterol levels. The result: the optimists were between 50 percent and 76 percent more likely to have higher health scores.

However, this study begs the question: How? We have yet to distinguish the exact mechanism of optimism and health, but some answers seem to revolve around the idea that people who are optimistic may be able to cope with stressful events better, which can have an impact on cardiovascular health. It may also be true that optimistic people are more likely to engage in healthful behaviors. So, what does this mean for your health? Perhaps merely having a positive outlook on events in your life can improve your health, and act as encouragement to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

For more information please visit: http://news.health.com/2015/01/14/an-optimistic-outlook-may-be-good-for-your-heart/

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