Is Spending Money on Others Good for your Heart?

Does spending money on others (prosocial spending) improve the cardiovascular health of community-dwelling older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure?  A new article published in the journal Health Psychology explores this question in a series of studies.  In Study 1, 186 older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure participating in the Midlife in the U.S. Study (MIDUS) were examined. In Study 2, 73 older adults diagnosed with high blood pressure were assigned to spend money on others or to spend money on themselves. Results: In Study 1, the more money people spent on others, the lower their blood pressure was 2 years later. In Study 2, participants who were assigned to spend money on others for 3 consecutive weeks subsequently exhibited lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to participants assigned to spend money on themselves. The magnitude of these effects was comparable to the effects of interventions such as antihypertensive medication or exercise. Conclusions: Together, these findings suggest that spending money on others shapes cardiovascular health, thereby providing a pathway by which prosocial behavior improves physical health among at-risk older adults. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

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