Gratitude doesn't just warm your heart, it may also lead to a healthier one, a new study suggests.
Research published by the American Psychological Association found patients with asymptomatic heart failure showed decreased levels of inflammatory biomarkers in the body, which are related to improved cardiac health. The study consisted of 186 men and women who kept a gratitude journal for eight weeks as they received regular clinical care.
"It seems that a more grateful heart is indeed a more healthy heart, and that gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health," wrote lead author Paul J. Mills, Ph.D., professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego. The study also found that gratitude contributed to spiritual well-being, which was associated with improved mood and better sleep.
This isn't the first time researchers have discovered a positive association between thankfulness and an improved heart. A 1995 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that positive emotions and appreciation are linked with changes in heart rate variability. The new APA findings also saw heart rate variability changes in the patients who had a thankful outlook.
The study results add to a growing list of reasons to express gratitude beyond the Thanksgiving table. Research has shown that thankfulness can increase optimism, strengthen your relationships, improve your immune system and even offset the effects of materialism.
Now that is something to be grateful for.