New Study: Happiness Protects Against Heart Disease

December 06, 2017

Most people who practice yoga know what a great therapy it is for emotional well-being. A new study shows that that may be good therapy for your heart as well. 

According to a recent report published in the February publication of the European Heart Journal, feelings of happiness, contentment, joy, and other pleasurable emotions are directly correlated with a decreased risk of heart disease.

Conducted by lead researcher Karina Davidson, director of Columbia's Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, the study examined 1,739 men and women over the course of 10 years. All participants were assessed for heart disease risk at the beginning of the study. Simultaneously, researchers examined the presence of depression, hostility, and anxiety versus positive emotions, such as happiness, enthusiasm, and joy.

Over the course of the 10-year study, the researchers found that the happier a participant was, the less likely he or she was to develop heart disease—and by a significant amount: for every point on the study’s five-point positivity scale, the participant’s likelihood of developing heart disease dropped a full 22%.

On the flipside, those suffering from unhappiness and negative emotional states were significantly more likely to experience heart attack or chronic chest pain.

According to the scientists, the findings suggest that those who are happier have healthier hearts.

This news indicates that along with yoga’s known physical benefits, such as weight reduction, increased strength and flexibility, and better physical tone, the practice’s more psychological benefits may have positive physical outcomes as well.

Many people have practiced yoga for anxiety and depression and found relief from the tension and unhappiness that weighed them down. Through developing a more positive mood with yoga for depression, practitioners are not just taking care of their emotional health—they are improving their physical health as well.

Yoga for heart disease can provide those at risk with benefits on all levels, including establishing a healthier, happier state of being.

Although researchers acknowledge that the exact means through which our emotions influence our physical well-being is still unknown, one thing is for sure: yoga therapy is good for the heart—in more ways than one.