Stay positive to stay healthy

The notion that feeling good may be good for your health is not new, but is it really true? A new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, reviews 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 of Cornell University (US), 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 ageing by regularly exercising and budgeting time for a good night’s sleep.

Alternately, these people may avoid unhealthy behaviours, 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. 

Optimism beats stress

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, 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." - (EurekAlert!, January 2011)

Read more:
Beating the stress bug
Key to happiness is gratitude

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 835 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 9607 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 1121 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.99
+0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.17
-0.3%
Rand - Euro
17.63
+0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.55
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.1%
Gold
1,714.24
+0.1%
Silver
20.80
+0.7%
Palladium
2,263.11
+0.1%
Platinum
932.66
+0.8%
Brent Crude
94.42
+1.1%
Top 40
59,272
-0.2%
All Share
65,634
-0.3%
Resource 10
63,588
+0.5%
Industrial 25
79,478
-0.7%
Financial 15
13,978
-0.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE