Sunday, May 12, 2013
Don't bother with the gym today: Positive outlook on life and making friends could be as good for you as diet and exercise
- Study showed a positive attitude caused 'upward spiral' into better health
- People can 'self generate' positive emotions and become healthier
PUBLISHED: 18:02, 11 May 2013 | UPDATED: 23:09, 11 May 2013
Having a positive outlook and making new friends could be as important to your health as diet and exercise, scientists have revealed.
People with a positive outlook have more upbeat emotions, which leads them to make more social connections, which in turn leads to an 'upward spiral' to better physical health, a study showed.
The research also found it is possible for a person to 'self-generate' positive emotions which can cause them to become physically healthier.
The study was lead by Professor Barbara Fredrickson, of the University of North Carolina, and Doctor Bethany Kok, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany.
'This research shows not only that our emotions are controllable, but also that we can take the reins of our daily emotions and steer ourselves toward better physical health.'
People who have higher vagal tone tend to be better at regulating their emotions, so the researchers studied whether this might lead people to experience more positive emotions.
- Owning a dog can make you healthier: Walking your pet and companionship from them can 'decrease risk of heart disease'
- Amazon drugs row: Fury as deadly 'legal highs' which can trigger psychotic episodes on sale online
- Can simply clenching a fist boost memory? Balling up your right hand tightly 'makes it easier to memorise lists'
To see whether people might be able to harness this upward spiral to steer themselves toward better health, the researchers conducted a field experiment.
Half of the study participants were randomly assigned to attend a six-week loving-kindness meditation (LKM) course where they learned how to cultivate positive feelings of love, compassion, and goodwill toward themselves and others.
Participants in both groups had their vagal tone assessed at the beginning and at the end of the study.
The results provided clear evidence to support the hypothesised upward spiral, with perceived social connections serving as the link between positive emotions and health.
Participants in the LKM group who entered the study with higher vagal tone showed steeper increases in positive emotions over the course of the study.
As participants' positive emotions increased, so did their reported social connections. And, as social connections increased, so did vagal tone.
In contrast, participants in the waiting-list group showed virtually no change in vagal tone over the course of the study.
Prof Fredrickson said: 'The findings add another piece to the physical health puzzle, suggesting that positive emotions may be an essential psychological nutrient that builds health, just like getting enough exercise and eating fruit and veg.'
The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.
THE SERENITY PRAYER
GOD GRANT ME THE SERENITY
LIVING ONE DAY AT A TIME;