Wellness

The health benefits of happiness. How to increase it?

“Happiness is the meaning and the goal of human existence”. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle spoke these words over 2,000 years ago. They still ring true today. Happiness is a general term that describes the experience of positive emotions, such as joy, contentment, and satisfaction. Recent research shows that being happier doesn’t just make you feel better, it actually brings a host of potential health benefits.

Here are the ways being happy can make you healthier.

1 Promote a healthy lifestyle

Being happy promotes a whole host of lifestyle habits that are important for overall health. Happy people tend to have a healthier diet, with higher intakes of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A study of over 7,000 adults found that people with positive wellbeing were 47% more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables than their less positive counterparts. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have always been associated with a range of health benefits. Including a reduced risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. In the same study of 7,000 adults, researchers found that people with positive wellbeing were 33% more likely to be physically active, with 10 or more hours of physical activity per week.

2 Happiness stimulates the immune system

A healthy immune system is important for overall health. Research has shown that being happier can help maintain a strong immune system.
This can help reduce the risk of developing a cold or chest infection. A study in more than 300 healthy people looked at the risk of catching a cold after receiving a common cold virus nasally. The least happy people were almost three times more likely to develop a cold than their happier counterparts.

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The effects of happiness on the immune system are not fully understood.

This may be due to the impact of happiness on the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which regulates the immune system, hormones, digestion and stress levels. Additionally, happy people are more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviors that play a role in maintaining a strong immune system. These include healthy eating habits and regular physical activity.

3 Happiness helps fight stress

Being happy can help reduce stress levels. Normally, excess stress leads to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to many of the harmful effects of stress. Including sleep disorders, weight gain, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. A number of studies show that cortisol levels tend to be lower when people are happier. In fact, one study of over 200 adults gave participants a series of stressful lab tasks and found that cortisol levels in the happiest people were 32% lower than those in the unhappy participants.

4 Happiness protects your heart

Happiness can protect the heart by reducing blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. A study of more than 6,500 people over the age of 65 found that positive well-being was linked to a 9% reduction in the risk of high blood pressure. Happiness can also reduce the risk of heart disease, the biggest killer in the world. In 1,500 adults, a long-term study showed that happiness helped protect against heart disease.

It seems that happiness can also help protect people who already suffer from heart disease. A systematic review of 30 studies showed that greater positive well-being in adults with established heart disease reduced the risk of death by 11%.

It’s important to note that some of these effects may be due to an increase in heart-healthy behaviors, such as physical activity, avoiding smoking, and healthy eating habits.

5 Happiness can extend your lifespan

Being happy can help you live longer. A long-term study published in 2015 examined the effect of happiness on the survival rate of 32,000 people. The risk of death over the 30-year period studied was 14% higher among unhappy people than among their happier counterparts. A large review of 70 studies looked at the association between positive well-being and longevity in healthy people and those with a pre-existing health condition, such as heart or kidney disease. Higher positive well-being was found to have a favorable effect on survival, reducing the risk of death by 18% in healthy people and by 2% in those with pre-existing disease.

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How happiness can lead to greater life expectancy is not well understood. It may be partly explained by an increase in beneficial behaviors that prolong survival. We think about not smoking, practicing physical activity, respecting medications and having good sleeping habits and practices.

6 It helps reduce pain

Arthritis is a common condition that involves inflammation and degeneration of the joints. It causes joint pain and stiffness, and usually worsens with age. A number of studies have shown that higher positive well-being can reduce the pain and stiffness associated with this condition.

Being happy may also improve physical functioning in people with arthritis. A study of more than 1,000 people with painful arthritis of the knee found that happier people took 711 more steps each day, or 8.5% more than their less happy counterparts. Researchers have suggested that happy people may have lower pain ratings because their positive emotions help broaden their perspective, encouraging new thoughts and ideas.

They think it can help people develop effective coping strategies that reduce their perception of pain

7 Happiness can reduce frailty

Frailty is a condition characterized by a lack of strength and balance. A study of 1,500 older adults found that the happiest people had a 3% lower risk of frailty over the 7-year study period.

8 May Protect Against Stroke

A stroke occurs when there is a disruption of blood flow to the brain. A study in older adults showed that positive well-being reduced the risk of stroke by 26%.

6 ways to increase your happiness

Being happy doesn’t just make you feel better, it’s also incredibly good for your health.

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Here are six scientifically proven ways to become happier.

1 Express your gratitude

You can increase your happiness by focusing on the things you are grateful for. One way to practice gratitude is to write down three things you are grateful for at the end of each day.

2 Be active

Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, is the most effective type of exercise for increasing happiness. Walking or playing tennis will not only be good for your physical health, it will also help improve your mood.

3 Get a good night’s rest

Lack of sleep can have a negative effect on your happiness. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, check out these tips to improve your sleep.

4 Spend time outdoors

Go for a walk in the park or get your hands dirty in the garden. All it takes is five minutes of outdoor exercise to noticeably improve your mood.

5 Meditate

Regular meditation can increase happiness and provide a host of other benefits, including reduced stress and improved sleep.

6 Eat a healthier diet

Studies show that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the happier you will be. Plus, eating more fruits and vegetables will also improve your long-term health.

Sources

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22748749/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5387968/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16937952/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15699534/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12883117/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-008-9104-7

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1088362/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17012526/

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