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Do happier people have healthier hearts? While we often think of happiness as being the result of something, it can also have a causal effect.
#1 – Happier people have fewer heart attacks.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center studied the link between emotions and heart disease and were able to conclude that it may be possible to help prevent heart disease by enhancing people’s positive emotions.
#2 – Happiness may strengthen your immune system.
Ever notice how unhappy or grumpy people always seem to be the ones getting sick? It turns out that it might not be a coincidence.
A 2003 experiment published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hypothesized that people who typically report experiencing negative emotions are at greater risk for disease versus those who are happier. They then exposed participants to the common cold and discovered that those who tended towards more towards negative emotions were more likely to develop a cold when compared to their positive counterparts.
#3 – Being happy may help you live longer.
In one of the most famous, published studies on the subject of happiness and longevity – researchers looked at autobiographical essays of Catholic nuns to find links between happiness and life expectancy. They discovered that the nuns who seemed happiest lived at least 7-10 years longer than those who didn’t seem as happy.
Spend more time with family/friends and other supportive networks. Don’t be afraid to try new things! According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, positive life experiences combined with certain personal attributes may help some of us stave off or better manage diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and depression.
Fitness plays a huge role in your happiness. It can make you feel better, and your health benefits from it too. It’s also a great way to network and meet people. Try joining an adult soccer league or some other recreational sports league. Join a gym, jump into a spin class, or sign up for other fitness classes.
Whether it’s watching a funny movie, a funny video or spending time making memories with those you love – there’s no denying that laughter is sometimes the best medicine.
Getting a good night’s rest is no laughing matter. Research has shown links between sleep and happiness/depression. In fact, both psychologists and psychiatrists argue that one of the most significant and overlooked health problems in the U.S. is that many American adults are chronically sleep deprived.
When your body is sleep deprived, it may increase your risk for depression, higher levels of stress as well as other health risks, such as: weight gain, and increased risk for heart disease. The CDC recommends that adults get between 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.
If you’re already starting off in a deficit, aim to get an extra 60-90 minutes of sleep each night, and work your way up to 8 hours of sleep. Set bed time alarms, and tune out distractions before heading to bed so that you can focus on rest.
It’s true that you are what you eat. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you should probably think twice about eating it. Aim to cook your meals at home as much as you can. When dining out, choose healthy, balanced proportions of protein, veggies, and fruits when possible. Avoid fried foods, and don’t be afraid to consume healthy fats (in moderation).
Create your own road map to happiness now!
During February, WakeMed celebrates Heart Month by hosting a variety of heart-related events, screenings and seminars at various WakeMed locations, as well as organizing special promotions with local businesses. Check our website to learn about the latest heart-related events taking place in Wake County, NC.
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