At the end of the 1979 Monty Python film "Life of Brian," Eric Idle, Graham Chapman (Brian) and a few dozen others are being hung up to dry (literally), so Idle's character tries to cheer up everyone by singing, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."
Well, if you've been diagnosed with heart disease and someone tells you to cheer up, it may sound as absurd as that scene's dark humor. But staying positive is smart medicine. People diagnosed with heart disease who have an upbeat attitude and who exercise live a lot longer and more robustly than those who don't.
Researchers followed more than 600 patients with ischemic heart disease for five years and found that those who received optimism counseling and participated in an exercise program cut their risk of dying during those years by 42 percent. Conversely, folks with heart disease who also are depressed have a 20 percent increase in all causes of mortality and hospitalizations.
Bottom line: If you have heart disease, you'll benefit by brightening your mood and increasing your physical activity (which always improves outlook, too!). Spend more time with friends and family; volunteer to help others less fortunate; identify something you've always wanted to learn or do - then go for it!
And start a progressive walking program targeting 30 minutes a day or more. (We say, aim for 10,000 steps daily.) With your doc's permission, look into more aerobic activities, like swimming or classes at the gym or in a rehab program. And remember, always look on the bright side of life.
© King Features Syndicate