Be Positive: It May Improve Your Spouse’s Health

Parents have long taught their children that it helps to have a positive outlook. Apparently, optimism can especially help – the health of your spouse.

After tracking 3,940 adults over the age of 50 for four years, researchers found that those who were married to an optimistic spouse had better physical mobility and fewer chronic illnesses, according to a news release from the University of Michigan.

“A growing body of research shows that people in our social networks can have a profound influence on our health and well-being,” said Eric Kim, a doctoral study in the U-M Department of Psychology and the study’s lead author. “This is the first study to show that someone else’s optimism could be impacting your own health.”

The study, published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, also found that couples where one spouse was optimistic had higher levels of relationship satisfaction and better cooperative problem-solving.

“So practically speaking, I can imagine an optimistic spouse encouraging his or her partner to go to the gym or eat a healthier meal because the spouse genuinely believes the behavior will make a difference in health,” Kim said. “Identifying factors that protect against declining health is important for the increasing number of older adults who face the dual threat of declining health and rising health care costs.”

Source: University of Michigan news release

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