Avoid a Broken Heart
How attitudes and emotional states affect the heart.
What to Do
First, exercise regularly. Whether you walk, swim, ride a stationary bike,
or take step aerobics, a consistent exercise program not only strengthens your
body but also reduces your stress.
Second, foster nurturing relationships. Strong relationships with family and
friends are essential to mental and physical health.
Finally, minimize stress. Some people find psychotherapy helps them express
emotions, such as hostility, that can lead to health problems. Others reduce
stress with exercises like yoga or biofeedback.
Such practices will likely benefit more than your heart, too. People who
maintain a positive attitude when faced with stressful situations have stronger
immune systems than their pessimistic peers, according to researchers at the
University of California at Los Angeles.
After studying 50 students during their first semester of law school -- a
notoriously angst-ridden time -- the UCLA researchers discovered that the
"situational optimists," the students who were confident that they
would do well in school, had more T cells and natural-killer cell activity than
the so-called situational pessimists.
These cells are crucial to fighting off infection, says Shelley E. Taylor, a
psychology professor at UCLA and a coauthor of the study that was published in
the Journal of Personal and Social Psychology in 1998. "Bugs just
don't hang around optimists as much as they do pessimists."
The Mind/Body Medical