Study leader Dr. Mary Charlson, executive director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, said the study involved 756 patients encouraged to think -- when they awaken and throughout their day -- of small things in their lives that make them feel good. A script, created by Charlson, now in the public domain, helps patients over obstacles to exercising or taking medication.
An excerpt said:
"When you get up in the morning, think about the small things that you said make you feel good, like the sunrise. Then as you go through your day, notice those and other small things that make you feel good and take a moment to enjoy them.
"Second, when you encounter some difficulties or are in a situation that makes it hard for you taking medication or exercising, think about things you enjoy or proud moments in your life like a graduation."
Patients were randomly assigned either to the experimental "positive affect" group or to a control group.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found 55 percent of coronary artery disease patients practicing the positive affect/self-affirmations increased their physical activity, compared with 37 percent in the control group. The positive affect group walked an average of 3.4 miles a week more than the control group.
"The behavior changes employed in the studies are known to be beneficial -- positive affect made a real difference, patients are better able to follow through on behaviors to improve their health," Charlson added.