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Health and happiness

There’s evidence to suggest that feeling happy and contented with life can help to boost our health, too.

Studies by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota have found that optimists live about 7.5 years longer than pessimists.

What’s more, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles found that showing comedy films to children with cancer and AIDS boosted their immune system and their autonomic nervous system, which controls ‘unconscious’ bodily functions such as breathing and heartbeat.

There’s also evidence that laughter helps prevent damage to the protective walls around blood vessels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.

And in the largest study on the relationship between health and happiness, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that the most optimistic people are up to 50% less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Researcher Julia Boehm said: 'We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction and happiness are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socio-economic status, smoking status or body weight.'

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

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For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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