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Here are three key factors for a positive outlook linked to better physical health:
• Stay fit, because according to an article published in the Psychological Bulletin, “Cardiovascular health is more consistently associated with optimism” and enjoyment of life. Exercise also releases endorphins, which make you feel great!
Takeaway points: Do you need to train for a marathon? Not at all — relaxed walking is just as good for most people, and less stressful on the joints than running. Outdoor exercise is generally more rewarding and you don’t need a gym membership or equipment, except for comfortable shoes. Taking the dog with you is also a plus — we all know pets keep people and active. Remember to stretch your leg muscles to warm up briefly before you set off, and you will go farther more comfortably. Another tip: if you tend to get nighttime leg cramps, magnesium supplements for cramps will also help your muscles when you are up and about.
• Enjoy life! A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal followed over 3,000 seniors for eight years and found clear associations between personal happiness and health: “Positive affective well-being (i.e., feelings of happiness and enjoyment) has been associated with longer survival and reduced incidence of serious illness.”
Takeaway points: Take time to do things you enjoy, whether that means hobbies either new or old, going out to concerts, or visiting someplace new or familiar, and enjoy good food with pleasant company. Appreciate the small and not-so-small things in life.
• Reduce stress: Avoid or reduce stressors in your life and find stress reduction techniques that work for you. Stress is physically harmful, and if you lose sleep regularly, you’ll feel mentally stressed too.
Takeaway points: Make a list of what stresses you out and try to manage these situations as best you can. Then opt for meditation, yoga, or giving yourself mini-timeouts to focus and calm yourself. Relaxing music or sounds are great, too. Even a brief time outdoors can help during a break at work, and you are doubling up on fitness if you get in a brief walk. Stay connected with good friends.
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Stillman & Friedland