A Positive Attitude
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet, staying hydrated, being physically active, and getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night are all essential parts of a healthy lifestyle. One very important, often over looked, component that completes a healthy lifestyle, though, is having a positive attitude. According to Mayo Clinic, a positive attitude is a key part of stress management, and effective stress management leads to numerous health benefits including:
- Improved quality of sleep
- Lower levels of anxiety and depression
- Less irritability and fatigue
- Stronger immune system
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Better coping skills during hardships
- Overall improved psychological and physical well-being
- Longer life span
Positive Mind Equals Healthy Body
Two studies, a 2007 Harvard University study and a 2017 Stanford University study published in Health Psychology, found that your attitude towards a healthy lifestyle affects your health almost more than your actual lifestyle. The researchers explained that the study had two groups. The first group had a positive perception of living a healthy lifestyle and believed they were trying their best to be healthy. The second group lived a very healthy lifestyle, but had a negative attitude towards healthy living. This led the first group to be measured as healthier than the second group. They experienced decreases in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index. They also reported feeling happier and more energetic. The second group did not experience as many positive benefits. According to the researchers, this is because the second group viewed their lifestyle as restrictive and expensive. They also were constantly stressed trying to keep up with their overwhelming expectations, which counteracted the effects of a healthy lifestyle.
Mind Over Matter
In addition to the studies mentioned above, a new study from Stanford University found that your mind can trump both nature and nurture in terms of health. In the study, all participants were genetically tested for an endurance gene. They performed running exercises before and after they were told the results, but only half were told their true results. Those that were told they had the endurance gene, regardless of if they actually had the gene or not, were able to run the exercises both faster and for a longer period of time when compared to the first round of running exercises. Those that were told they did not have the endurance gene, regardless of if they actually had the gene or not, ran the exercises slower and for a shorter amount of time than they did in the first round.
All these studies prove that the way you think about your well-being plays an important role in your actual well-being. Believing that you can commit to a healthy lifestyle, believing that you can stick to a workout routine, and believing you can maintain a healthy weight will make these goals much more obtainable. These studies also bring up an interesting point about the way health information should be presented, both in healthcare and in workplace wellness programs. Encouraging healthy habits and presenting them in positive ways will be much more effective than simply lecturing on healthy lifestyles and presenting it in an intimidating or forceful way. In conclusion, creating a positive attitude towards health and wellness should be the first step in anyone’s well-being journey.
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