Positive Emotions Improve Health-Related Behaviours

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Positive psychological states have been linked to better health and longevity. It’s believed to be partly due to the effect of positive emotions and moods on behaviour. Nancy Sin and her colleagues from the university of Penn State evaluated 5-year associations between positive affect and health behaviours in patients with coronary heart disease.

At baseline, they found that subjects with higher positive emotions and moods tended to have better health behaviours such as: physical activity, sleep quality, non-smoking and medication compliance. However, the baseline measurements of positive affect were not predictive of health behaviours at follow-up. Instead, it was increases in positive affect over the 5 years that were linked to improved physical activity, sleep quality and medication compliance.

The authors conclude that “efforts to sustain or enhance positive affect may be promising for promoting better health behaviours”. Although this may be easier said than done, positive psychology does offer methods and techniques to help achieve this aim.