Exercise. Quit smoking. Manage your weight. We've heard this advice for a healthy heart countless times, but are we listening? Heart related illnesses continue to be one of the major killers in the US. In fact, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease claims approximately 2,200 lives per day in the United States alone; that is a death every 39 seconds.
There's been some interesting research lately about some unexpected factors in heart health. Researchers have always focused on negatives such as bad diet, stress, and lack of exercise.Recently, researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) wondered what impact positive influences had on heart health. The results are "positively" amazing.
According to lead author Julia Boehm, a researcher in the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at HSPH “The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness are associated with reduced risk of Cardio Vascular Disease regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or body weight,” . “For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50 percent reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers.”
Now we know that being optimistic can really pay off. What about love? Hearts themselves, afterall, are a symbol of love. How do love and affection impact your heart health?
- Spending time with a loved one can actually lower your blood pressure.
- Does seeing your loved one make your heart race? That's your brain releasing hormones such as dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine; it's kind of like getting a mini-aerobic workout.
- Forget apples, try a hug a day to keep the doctor away. When there is close physical contact, your body releases oxytocin which can lower blood pressure, naturally relieve stress, and gives us a general feeling of happiness.
Staying physically healthy is still vital to a strong healthy heart, but don't overlook the benefits of being positive, happy and having a heart filled with love.