• By Vivien Williams

Mayo Clinic Minute: How optimism improves your health

December 11, 2019

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that being optimistic is good for your heart. Dr. Richa Sood, a Mayo Clinic general internal medicine physician, agrees. She says people with a positive outlook on life may not only have healthier hearts, but also they may be healthier and happier in general.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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"There are two different aspects that we need to talk about. One is the behavioral side of things. The other is the physiology that changes with the positive mindset," says Dr. Sood.

Optimistic people often take charge of their health.

"They want to read about what makes me healthy and maybe start eating healthy, and they want to go to the gym and do their exercise and maintain their weight," says Dr. Sood.

Physiological aspects of not being optimistic can be measured.

The association between pessimism and inflammatory markers in the body is strong. Inflammation increases your risk of heart disease. Chromosomes are capped with what are called "telomeres."

"The longer the telomere, the younger the cell. So it's a marker of cell age. As the cells divide, the telomere shortens, and finally the cell dies. Chronic stress shortens the telomeres. Pessimism shortens the telomeres," says Dr. Sood.

The good news is that if you work to be more optimistic, you may improve your overall health.

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