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The Promise of Well-Being Interventions for Improving Health Risk Behaviors

Abstract

Accumulating evidence suggests that positive psychological well-being (e.g., optimism, life satisfaction) is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. One possible explanation for this association is that individuals with greater positive psychological well-being tend to engage in health behaviors that are relevant to the prevention of cardiovascular disease (e.g., exercising, eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking). If positive psychological well-being actually precedes and induces healthy behaviors such that it is a true causal factor, then well-being may be a useful target for intervention. In this article, we briefly review evidence linking well-being with health behaviors. We also describe possible strategies to enhance well-being (e.g., expressing gratitude, mindfulness meditation) and evaluate how effective such strategies may be for fostering behavior change.

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Acknowledgments

Support for this research was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio through the grant “Exploring Concepts of Positive Health.”

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No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.

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Correspondence to Julia K. Boehm or Laura D. Kubzansky.

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Boehm, J.K., Vie, L.L. & Kubzansky, L.D. The Promise of Well-Being Interventions for Improving Health Risk Behaviors. Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep 6, 511–519 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12170-012-0273-x

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Keywords

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Positive psychological well-being
  • Optimism
  • Gratitude
  • Positive emotions
  • Health behaviors
  • Physical activity
  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Food consumption
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Behavior change
  • Intervention