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

Date Published: 
December 2012
Boehm JK , Vie LL, and Kubzansky LD

People who have positive psychological well-being may be more likely to engage in heart-healthy behaviors such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking, all behaviors that also reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.

These researchers reviewed the evidence linking well-being and health behaviors, and described strategies to enhance well-being studied by others, and the implications for cardiovascular health.

The authors categorize interventions designed to enhance well-being as:

  • Expressing gratitude—writing letters of gratitude or listing things for which a person is grateful (counting blessings).
  • Acts of kindness—things a person does to benefit someone else that involve a sacrifice or cost to the doer (donating blood or visiting an elderly relative, for example).
  • Mindfulness—meditative practices to cultivate non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.
  • Optimism—thinking positively about the future and imagining having success in accomplishing life goals (such as those related to relationships, career, and health).

Most well-being interventions were short-term in duration (6 to 12 weeks), inexpensive to implement, and conducted without a clinician. Well-being was found to be a consequence of engaging in the behaviors described, and that may lead to healthier behaviors, creating a “virtuous cycle” that contributes to cardiovascular health.

Self Published: 
Health Assets: 
Life Satisfaction, Positive Psychological Well-Being, Psychological Well-being, Purpose in Life
Health Conditions: 
Cardiovascular Disease
Positive Health Type: 
Functional, Subjective
Other Factors: 
Physical activity, Exercise, Food consumption, Cigarette smoking
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