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Want to be happier and live longer? Get socially active.

Published: March 18, 2016 | Last Updated: March 18, 2016 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading
Photo credit: More Time To Travel

Photo credit: MoreTimeToTravel.com

New studies suggest that being socially active is good for your health.

Two recent studies, one in the journal Psychology and Aging and another in the British Medical Journal, reaffirm the importance of remaining socially engaged in late life.

The first study found that being socially active and having social goals was associated with improved well-being in later life. Moreover, the researchers found that social ties were more important than family ties in that regard.

“Our results indicate that living a socially active life and prioritizing social goals are associated with higher late-life satisfaction and less severe declines toward the end of life,” said study lead author Denis Gerstorf, PhD, of Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.

What does a socially engaged lifestyle entail? According to the researchers, it involves a combination of cognitive stimulation and physical activities (often associated with social interaction).

The second study in BMJ Open followed retirees for a period of six years to see how involvement in social groups affected their quality of life and mortality over a period of six years. The representative sample included more than 400 older adults in England who were making the transition from work to retirement.

In this study, these social groups included leisure groups (e.g. book clubs); family, friendship or community groups; sporting groups (e.g., tennis clubs), work groups (e.g., sales teams), professional groups (e.g., trade unions) or any other groups “that a person sees as an important part of who they are.”

Retirees with two group memberships (for example, involvement in a book club and a religious group) prior to retirement had a 2% risk of death in the first 6 years of retirement (provided they maintained membership in both groups.) Their risk increased to 5% if they only remained in one, and a 12% risk if they were no longer involved in either group.

The study team led by Niklas K Steffens of the University of Brisbane, Australia concludes: “The effect of social group memberships on mortality was comparable to that of physical exercise.”

Both studies are correlational and don’t prove causation but they certainly offer food for thought in addition to new directions for future research.

Do you belong to any feel-good groups?

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Category: Friendship and aging, KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (5)

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  1. Allison says:

    I have no close friends but feel so much better doing things by myself. Does this mean ill die before my time. I’m 68 years old and have always enjoyed my own company. Seems like more stressful when I’m around a lot of people. Only my husband and daughter are my true friends. Guess this doesn’t bode well for my really old age in a few years. Or is it just a matter of to each his own?

  2. Nofriends says:

    Great. All I have to do is get more friends and I’ll live longer. Nobody has replied to this because it makes no sense this type of article is posted on a blog for people that have problems with making/keeping friends.

  3. Meorge says:

    The article refers to people who remained in groups or who dropped out of them as they got older. So presumably, this whole article refers primarily to extroverts as opposed to introverts in the first place, a typical bias. Introverts are not joiners and are not happier in groups, so why would we be happier that way as we grow older? There is also no mention of any of the other medical conditions or even ages of the people studied, just that they were “older” and retired. What a lot of nonsense. Why does anyone publish this stuff?

  4. Beatrix says:

    What on earth are “social goals”?

    “Both studies are correlational and don’t prove causation but they certainly offer food for thought in addition to new directions for future research.”

    So basically this article doesn’t mean anything.

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