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Why happy people live longer

According to experts, negative emotions are bad for overall health and specifically for the heart

What we know

People who have a positive outlook when they’re young (measured by a personality test they took as college students) end up living longer, report two recent studies that followed participants for 30 and 40 years, respectively. Even at age 50, just feeling upbeat about getting older is linked, on average, to seven more years of life, researchers at Yale University have found.


What’s the connection? “Negative emotions like hostility and bitterness are bad for overall health and specifically for the heart,” says Stephen Post, Ph.D., director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University in New York. On the upside, women with sunny dispositions enjoy better heart health – over a 10- to 13-year follow-up, they had far less arterial narrowing than more dour women, a study from the University of Pittsburgh reported.


What you can do

Become an extrovert – join a community group, try a new activity, strike up a conversation with a stranger. Acting gregarious can make you feel more outgoing, which is linked to a more positive mood, researchers at Wake Forest University have found.


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Jennifer Hudson’s healthy habits


Flora is collecting heartbeats from South Africans who want to join the fight against heart disease. In exchange for heartbeats, Flora will help upgrade cardiac facilities in South Africa. Click on the beating heart to donate heartbeats today!

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