Social ties & Longevity

According to new research publicised recently, a healthy social life may be as good for your long-term health as not smoking.

Research was carried out at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina where data was compared from 148 studies on health outcomes and social relationships from more than 300,000 men and women throughout the developed world.  They found that those with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with much stronger social ties.

It’s also bigger than differences in the risk of death associated with many other well-known lifestyle factors, including lack of exercise and obesity.

In one of the most famous experiments on health and social life, Carnegie Mellon University exposed hundreds of healthy volunteers to the common cold virus; then isolated them for several days. The study showed that participants with more social connections and with a wider social network (friends from a variety of social contexts such as work, sports teams and church) were less likely to develop a cold than the more socially isolated study participants.

In essence, the immune systems of people with lots of friends simply worked better, fighting off the cold virus often without symptoms. Studies suggest that a strong social life affects immune function by helping people keep physiological stress under control.

Whilst I agree with these findings, as individuals we are ultimately responsible. There are so many other things we have to take into consideration too. We must also concentrate on our emotional, physical and spiritual health, because without those we will always struggle with our health. I agree it helps to have friends and family around us who can help, but we have to be able to do it for ourselves.

To give ourselves a chance of living longer and having healthier lives, we have to be at peace regardless of who is around us. No one else can give us that.


16 May, 2013

8 thoughts on “Social ties & Longevity

  1. I agree with you. I think it all depends on how well we take care of ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually, along with being sociable.

    The immune system seems to work better when we’re with friends and family, because we are social and not sitting at home depressed. Depression lowers the immune system too.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Yes depression does weaken the immune system, you’re right.

      I believe also that if we were to concentrate on our spiritual, emotional and physical health more, I think we would all be at one with ourselves more, instead of relying on family and friends to fill that void.

      Family and friends will always help of course, as long as their help is positive, but how our life turns out will ultimately be down to us and what we choose to get out of it. That is my belief.

  2. Great post today. I agree a good social life does wonders for a person. As I am an outgoing person, I love it when there are positive people around me.

    People who are happy are great to be around. It makes you feel good.

  3. Interesting post. I do think that the research has made some good links. I am reminded that the word ‘disease’ is made up of ‘dis’ and ‘ease.’

    Also I agree with your comments about us ultimately being responsible for our own peace; difficult as that is to achieve in our daily lives.

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