How to live longer: Being more positive improves cardiovascular health to boost longevity

Study finds being OUTDOORS helps you live longer

Staying optimistic every single day is easier said than done, especially in today’s current pandemic climate. However, those who were able to look at the brighter side of life and retain a more positive look on life are able to boost their longevity compared to their negative counterparts.

A new US study found that optimists are more likely to live longer than those who have a more negative approach to life.

Positive people are more likely to live to the age of 85 or more, noted the study.

It came to this conclusion by using two existing groups of people who were recruited for different studies and included 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 1,500 men in the Veterans’ Health Study.

Their levels of optimism were assessed, as well as their overall health and were also asked about exercise and diets, as well as how much they smoked and drank alcohol.

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The study found that on average, the most optimistic men and women had an 11 to 15 percent longer lifespan and were significantly more likely to live to 85 compared with the least optimistic group.

While a lot is known about the risk factors for disease and early death, far less is understood about what the researchers call “positive psychosocial factors” that could enable healthy ageing.

Professor Lewina Lee, associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, who worked on the study, said: “Our findings speak to the possibility that raising levels of optimism may promote longevity and healthy ageing.

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“Evidence from randomised control trials suggest that interventions, such as imagining a future in which everything has turned out well, or more intensive cognitive-behavioural therapy, can increase levels of optimism.”

However, exactly why optimistic people appear to live longer is still up for debate, she said.

“Healthier behaviours and lower levels of depression only partially explained our findings.

“Initial evidence from other studies suggests that more optimistic people tend to have goals and the confidence to reach them, are more effective in problem-solving, and they may be better at regulating their emotions during stressful situations,” she added.

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health, said the Mayo Clinic.

The health site continued: “Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Having a more positive outlook on life doesn’t mean being naïve but rather having the ability to approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. 

Positive thinking often starts with self-talk which is an endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through one’s head and are automatic thoughts can be either positive or negative.

There are a number of ways a person can be more positive which include having a gratitude journal, spending time with animals or spending more  time in nature.

Having the ability to recognise when negative thoughts begin spiralling out of control and switching them around will also help to ensure a positive outlook and therefore boosting longevity.

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