by Susan Schachter, MSRDN July 13, 2023 2 min read
You may be surprised to learn that acts of kindness can have a positive impact not only on the people they’re directed toward, but on your blood pressure. Turns out our hearts truly have a built-in mechanism for incentivizing us to help each other.
In this spirit, we at 120/Life came across two studies that we really wanted to share with you, in the Journal Health Psychology. These 2 studies address the heart. The emotional heart and the anatomical heart.
Study 1: 186 older adult participants diagnosed with high BP, were examined. Two years later it was recorded that the more money those people spent on others, the lower their blood pressure was.
Study 2: 73 older adult participants with high blood pressure were assigned to spend money on others or to spend money on themselves, for three consecutive weeks. The participants who’d been assigned to spend money on others for 3 consecutive weeks ended up having lower systolic and diastolic BP compared with those participants who’d been assigned to spend money on themselves. The researchers noted that “the magnitude of these effects was comparable to the effects of interventions such as antihypertensive medication or exercise.”*
The researchers concluded that “Together these findings suggest that spending money on others, shapes cardiovascular health, thereby providing one pathway by which prosocial behavior improves physical health among at-risk older adults.”
Doesn’t this make sense??? We humans are pack animals. It makes sense that giving from the heart to nourish another human being’s life and survival would contribute to our own survival, in pursuit of our specie’s survival! I’m sure everyone reading this has experienced how good it makes us feel to contribute to someone else’s life. I’ve seen acts of giving and kindness referred to as “the good selfishness”. We know that giving makes our emotional heart feel good …. How amazing to find out that it has a normalizing impact on our blood pressure and therefore on our anatomical heart!
*Obviously, we recommend speaking with your MD before stopping any medication (even if you’re exercising the good selfishness!) and we recommend continuing or starting (with your MD’s okay) your exercise routine (even if you’re exercising the good selfishness!).
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