Positive Attitude Boosts Exercise, Longevity Among Heart Disease Patients, Study Suggests

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Attitude is everything, at least for people with heart disease, a new study suggests.

The research, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, shows that having a positive attitude is tied to a longer life and greater likelihood of exercising among coronary artery disease patients.

"We should focus not only on increasing positive attitude in cardiac rehabilitation, but also make sure that patients perform exercise on a regular basis, as exercise is associated with both increased levels of optimism and better health," study researcher Susanne S. Pedersen, Ph.D., professor of cardiac psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, said in a statement. Pederson is also an adjunct professor of cardiac psychology at the University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital in Denmark.

The study included 600 people with coronary artery disease who were being treated at a hospital in Denmark. Researchers followed up with them over five years to find an association between positive mood and likelihood of exercising, as well as positive mood and risk of dying over that five-year period.

Specifically, people with positive attitudes who exercised had a 42 percent decreased chance of dying over the study period. Meanwhile, 16.5 percent of those with more negative attitudes died over the study period.

Past studies have also shown a link between having a positive attitude and good health. A study earlier this year in the American Journal of Cardiology shows that having a cheerful disposition could help to lower your risk of experiencing a heart attack. And last year, a study from Duke University Medical Center researchers found that positive thinking about the future was linked with a lower risk of dying from heart disease, the Chicago Tribune reported.

For more health benefits of optimism, click through the slideshow:

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