The Good Life
Are you an optimist? It turns out that can important part of maintaining your health. A new study finds women who take a darker view of life are more likely to develop heart trouble than those with a cheerful, trusting outlook.
This comes from the Women’s Health Initiative, which has tracked more than 97,000 American women for more than eight years.
Women within the highest 25 percent of optimism scores had a 9 percent lower chance of developing heart disease and a 14 percent lower chance of dying of any cause. Those with the highest degree of cynical hostility were 16 percent more likely to die than those with the most trust in their fellow humans.
Researchers say there are several possible explanations. Money might be involved, since optimism is associated with higher income and education. And optimistic women had less high blood pressure and diabetes; they didn’t smoke as much and tended to exercise more.
It’s also possible that optimists are more likely to follow their doctor’s advice.
A woman’s outlook on life might also affect how she responds to stress. Pessimism and hostility might lead to higher blood pressure, higher heart rate and other physical risk factors.
Scientists say this study demonstrates the importance of the connection between the mind and the body, and it’s another reason to try to look at the bright side of life. They figure the results most likely apply to men as well as women.