Optimistic partner your gateway to better health

Planning to tie the knot soon? Gauge his/her optimism levels too as a cheerful partner with loads of positive attitude would be a harbinger of health for you.

According to a study, having an optimistic spouse predicted better mobility and fewer chronic illnesses over time, even above and beyond a person’s own level of optimism.

“This is the first study to show that someone’s else optimism could be impacting your own health,” said Eric Kim, a doctoral student in psychology at University of Michigan.

In close relationships, optimism predicts enhanced satisfaction and better cooperative problem-solving.

“An optimistic spouse encourage his or her partner to go to the gym or eat a healthier meal because the spouse genuinely believes the behaviour will make a difference in health,” Kim noted.

To reach this conclusion, researchers tracked 3,940 adults for four years and reported on their physical functioning (mobility, motor skills), health and number of chronic illnesses.

Past research found that social support may partly explain the link between optimism and enhanced health.

Optimists are more likely to seek social support when facing difficult situations and have a larger network of friends who provide that support.

“Identifying factors that protect against declining health is important for the increasing number of older adults who face the dual threat of declining health and rising health care costs,” co-author Jacqui Smith, a professor in the department of psychology, emphasised.

The study appeared in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

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