Do you always look on the brighter side?
Byline: DR MIRIAM STOPPARD
Do you see a glass half-full or half empty? Let's hope it's the former because that could mean extra years of life.
People with a positive outlook are twice as likely to have healthy hearts and circulation, researchers claim.
Not only that, optimists take better care of themselves having significantly healthier blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels and they take more exercise.
Optimists are also less likely to smoke and more likely to be a healthy weight.
Optimism lower Researchers from the University of Illinois, US, even suggested boosting people's mental health to improve physical health.
heart So could an optimistic outlook lower the risk of heart disease if someone has high blood pressure, smokes, has high cholesterol, is diabetic, doesn't exercise, is overweight or obese, or has a family history of heart disease? Seems so.
Professor of social work, Rosalba Hernandez, said: "Individuals with the disease highest optimism levels have twice the odds of being in cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts.
"This association remains significant, even after adjusting the data for sociodemographic characteristics and poor mental health."
The study in more than 5,000 US adults and published in the journal Health Behavior and Policy Review, is the first to examine the link between optimism and heart health.
Heart health was measured and scored as poor, intermediate and ideal. The scoring took account of blood pressure, body mass index, blood sugar readings, cholesterol levels, diet, physical activity and whether participants smoked.
They were also questioned about their outlook on life and physical health. Researchers at University of Pittsburgh, US, found women who are optimistic are less likely to die from any cause than pessimists. After eight years of follow up in the study, they were a third less likely to die from heart disease.
Optimists are also less likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes or smoke. But don't go overboard and become ridiculously optimistic. Don't be too much of a Pollyanna.
Sophie Chou, a psychology researcher at National Taiwan University, claims people who are realistically optimistic are more likely to be happy and successful than those who are pessimistic or wildly optimistic.
She says a realistic optimist is someone who looks on the bright side of life but never loses their realistic grasp of the present and the future.
Chou says realistic optimists use their realism to perform well at work and in exams, while their outlook enables them to deflect depression and to spot opportunities and take advantage.
Optimism can lower risk of heart disease