Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Do you think that you are more, less or equally physically active as your peers?  Your answer might be linked to your risk of premature death decades from now — no matter how physically active you actually are, according to research by Stanford scholars Octavia Zahrt and Alia Crum.

The research, which appeared in the July 20th edition of Health Psychology, finds that people who think they are less active than others in a similar age bracket die younger than those who believe they are more active — even if their actual activity levels are similar.

“Our findings fall in line with a growing body of research suggesting that our mindsets — in this case, beliefs about how much exercise we are getting relative to others — can play a crucial role in our health,” Crum said.

“So much effort, notably in public health campaigns, is geared toward motivating people to change their behavior: eat healthier, exercise more and stress less,” Crum said. “But an important variable is being left out of the equation: people’s mindsets about those healthy behaviors.”

As outlined in Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity by Ed Diener of the University of Illinois and the Gallop Organization  and Micaela Y. Chan of the University of Texas at Dallas, life satisfaction, absence of negative emotions, optimism and positive emotions cause better health and longevity.

In a related study of more than 4,000 people 50 and older published last year in the Journal of Gerontology, Becca Levy and Avni Bavishi at the Yale School of Public Health demonstrated that having a positive view of aging can have a beneficial influence on health outcomes and longevity. Psychologically, a positive view can enhance belief in one’s abilities, decrease perceived stress and foster healthful behaviors. Physiologically, people with positive views of aging had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of stress-related inflammation associated with heart disease and other illnesses, even after accounting for possible influences like age, health status, sex, race and education than those with a negative outlook. They also lived significantly longer.

So, having the attitude of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” can help you not only better enjoy your life, but also live longer.

Do you want help to better enjoy your workout? Fitness for Health can help you create a healthy, active lifestyle while having fun and maintaining weight management. We offer customized exercise programs designed to fit your and your children’s exact needs while helping you reach your unique health goals. From first-time gym-goers to NFL and boxing professional athletes looking for athletic training, Fitness for Health has fitness programs to help people of all ages and abilities reach their fullest potential. And, we offer family workouts and Open Gym playtimes (beginning again in September) so families can become active together.