Happiness May Help You Live Longer
A large review of over 150 studies recently found that having a good mood may help you live longer. The review was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois and published in February 2011 issue of the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.
The review looked at various types of studies ranging from clinical trials to lab experiments involving both humans and animals. Overall, 8 different types of long term studies were included.
The researchers found overwhelming evidence that happier people enjoy better health and longer lives. Surprisingly, the association was even stronger than the link between obesity and reduced longevity.
The studies highlighted various potential mechanisms for the relationship, for instance, in the laboratory, positive moods were found to reduce stress-related hormones, increase immune function, and help the heart recover following exertion.
On the other hand, animals that lived in stressful environments like crowded cages had weaker immune systems and a higher rate of heart disease, leading to earlier mortality.
Another study followed 5,000 university students for more than 40 years, and found that the optimistic students tended to live longer.
Although further research is necessary to delve deeper into the relationship, maintaining a sunny outlook on life and taking steps to avoid chronic anger and depression may be just as important for your health as more obvious factors such as diet and exercise.