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Happiness could bolster consumers' physical health, study finds

Researchers say health and happiness greatly influence one another

Photo (c) StockPlanets - Getty Images
While recent studies have found how consumers’ social circle could be indicative of both health and wellness, a new study is investigating how emotions and happiness affect overall health.

According to researchers from the Association of Psychological Sciences, both happiness and health are important measures that can influence each other in consumers’ lives. Their work revealed that increasing happiness yields better physical health outcomes, even for those who are considered to be generally healthy. 

“Though prior studies have shown that happier people tend to have better cardiovascular health and immune-system responses than their less happy counterparts, our research is one of the first randomized controlled trials to suggest that increasing the psychological well-being even of generally healthy adults can have benefits to their physical health,” said researcher Kostadin Kushlev. 

Happiness influencing health measures

The researchers conducted a virtual experiment, consisting of over 150 adults ranging in age from mid-twenties to mid-seventies, that was designed to understand how health and happiness intersect. 

While half of the group carried on with their lives as usual and later reported on their overall well-being, the other half of the group was given three months worth of modules that were all centered around the idea of personal wellness. At no point did the modules address any physical health habits; however, the participants were exposed to several exercises that allowed them to set goals, meditate, and journal, among several other tasks. 

“All of the activities were evidence-based tools to increase subjective well-being,” said Kushlev. 

The researchers checked in with all of the participants three months after the study concluded, and they ultimately learned that the interventions geared towards promoting well-being did their job. The findings were two-fold: participants in the module group weren’t calling out sick from work as often as the control group, and their self-reported happiness levels increased as time went on. 

These results not only show how closely our mental and physical well-being are linked with each other, but they also show the opportunities that are available to extend this kind of wellness counseling to consumers. 

“These results speak to the potential of such interventions to be scaled in ways that reach more people in environments such as college campuses to help increase happiness and promote better mental health among students,” said Kushlev.

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