Relationships and Longevity

Here’s more evidence on how important family and friends are for your health. New research from Brigham Young University suggests that social relationships can predict a person’s odds of living or dying. The researchers found that social connections can improve the odds of survival by 50 per cent.

They combined the results of 148 studies that followed more than 300,000 people around the world for 7 years. They concluded that adults with strong personal relationships may live an average of almost 4 years longer than those with weaker social ties.

And social isolation can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic. The researchers also suggest it does more damage than not exercising – and is twice as harmful as obesity.

The study authors figure that when someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks. Relationships also reduce stress and boost the immune system.

They also say the challenge now is to put this information to good use. The Globe and Mail ran an editorial calling on the government to stage a public health campaign – a war on friendlessness and social isolation akin to the war on smoking or obesity. It’s an interesting idea!

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