Positive attitude is correlated with exercise and longevity

By Sheryl Kay • Published: January 28th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The motivational posters tell us all the time — feel positive and you’ll feel healthy. Now research shows that an optimistic attitude has concrete health benefits, particularly for those with heart ailments. According to the study, positive people had a greater propensity to exercise and increased longevity, too.

Investigators tracked 600 patients suffering from coronary artery disease for five years. They were trying to determine if there was any association between patients reporting being in a good mood and the likelihood that person would exercise. In addition, they also tracked positive moods and the risk of dying over that five-year period.

The study found that patients who reported feeling happier and exercising had a forty two percent lower chance of dying over the five-year period than those who viewed life in a negative way. In fact, almost 17 percent of those who had a more pessimistic view of life died during the study.

Previous studies had linked attitude with longevity, while others looked at exercise and aging, but this is the first to correlate all three and to show that those with positive attitudes are not only more apt to exercise, but also are more likely to live longer than negative-thinking folk. The researchers acknowledged it would be hard to know which came first — being happy and wanting to work out, or feeling happy from working out. In either case, cardiac rehabilitation programs should not only focus on being content and positive, but should also offer a component of exercise.

Although three-fourths of the patients in the study were white and male, investigators felt confident the results would remain the same for all demographics.

If you’re dealing with a heart condition, a doctor’s care and positive lifestyle habits are crucial. But a positive attitude may just help, too.