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Positive Vibes Really Do Protect Health

An evidence-based review of published literature finds support for the premise that feeling good may be good for your health.

The article, published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, examines the existing research on how positive emotions can influence health outcomes in later adulthood.

“We all age. It is how we age, however, that determines the quality of our lives,” said Anthony Ong, Ph.D., of Cornell University, author of the review article. The data he reviews suggest that positive emotions may be a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and illness.

There are several pathways through which a positive attitude can protect against poor health later in life. For example, happier people might take a proactive approach to aging by regularly exercising and budgeting time for a good night’s sleep.

Alternately, these people may avoid unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and risky sex. The benefits of these healthy lifestyle choices may become more important in older adults, as their bodies become more susceptible to disease.

An optimistic outlook has also been shown to combat stress—a known risk factor for a lot of disease. Studies have found that people with stronger positive emotions have lower levels of chemicals associated with inflammation related to stress.

Also, by adopting a positive attitude people may even be able to undo some of the physical damage caused by stress.

Ong, a developmental psychologist, said he became interested in the study of positive emotion during graduate school when he learned about what researchers call the paradox of aging: Despite the notable loss of physical function throughout the body, a person’s emotional capacity seemed to stay consistent with age.

Ong speculates that if positive emotions are indeed good for our health then, “one direct, measureable consequence of this should be the extended years of quality living.”

Source: Association of Psychological Science

Positive Vibes Really Do Protect Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Positive Vibes Really Do Protect Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/01/21/positive-vibes-really-do-protect-health/22833.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.