As doctors and researchers take a more holistic approach to wellness, they continue to uncover an ever-increasing amount of evidence showing direct (or sometimes indirect) links between happiness and healthiness. While people have suspected for years that mood can have either a positive or negative effect on a person’s physical health, there is actual scientific proof to back up those claims—some of it shocking.
And these aren’t minor benefits—they’re game-changers!
Multiple studies from around the world have either confirmed or strongly suggested five physical benefits of a better mood.
Five Ways Happiness is Healthy for You
1) Happiness Protects Your Heart
A 2005 scientific correlation  of medical records and psychological assessments found that people who were classified as “happy” enjoyed much lower heart rates and blood pressure than people who weren’t. High blood pressure can lead to life-threatening illnesses including heart disease—the number one killer in The United States.
While a sunny attitude won’t replace blood pressure medication any time soon, at-risk patients may enjoy reduced risk through yoga, meditation, and talk therapy—proven non-medical mood boosters.
2) Happiness Boosts Your Immune System
Who would volunteer to catch a cold? Researchers convinced 350 people to do so in a 2003 experiment to correlate mood and immune system response. Individuals who rated themselves as happy (by recording how often they experienced nine positive emotions) were much less likely to catch a cold after exposure than unhappy counterparts. So when colds are running rampant in the workplace boost that vitamin C and do something that makes you happy.
3) Happiness Combats Stress
Stress can contribute to everything from high blood pressure to increased belly fat (which contributes to a person’s risk of everything from cancer to heart disease). But happiness dramatically decreases stress. “Happy” participants in the study mentioned above enjoyed measurable stress levels 23% lower than unhappy people. Plus, happy people react much better in stressful situations.
4) Happiness Combats Disease and Disability
An Australian study  found that happy people were 1.5 times less likely to suffer from long-term illnesses like vision problems and chronic pain.
You could argue that people who are healthier are happier, but a Mexican study found that elderly individuals who rated themselves as happy were significantly less “frail” seven years after the initial self-assessment. Clearly mood has an effect even in the long run.
5) Happiness Fights Aches and Pains
A 2001 study  similar to the Mexican research mentioned above found that people with happier lives were much less likely to suffer aches and pains like muscle pain, dizziness, indigestion (heartburn), and even weakness. This allowed them to enjoy activities that made them happier—reciprocating the benefit.
In fact, a number of the happiest people were objectively healthier at the end of the study than they were at the beginning.
Emotional Health is as Important as Physical Health
If you’ve made the decision to change your life for the better, one of the most important things you can do is address your mood. Plus, when you embrace a more positive attitude, the seemingly more difficult changes will become much easier to accomplish. By living a happier life, you’re living a better (and perhaps longer ) one as well.