What’s One Way to Live Longer?
Surround yourself with lots of family and good friends. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive, and according to nearly 150 different studies, it’s effective.
For the longest time, we’ve known that strong social ties can greatly improve the quality of one’s life. Having plenty of friends and positive family relationships means life doesn’t have to be so lonely. There’s always someone around to laugh with, to share important milestones with, and to listen to your troubles so they don’t get bottled up inside.
But the benefits don’t end there. Strong social ties can actually play a key role in longevity; a measure of how long a person lives. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why close family ties and a broad network of friends can help extend your life.
One theory is that when you’re surrounded by people you care about and who care about you, you’re less likely to become involved in risky behavior or habits. To put it another way, people with strong social ties tend to take better care of themselves. These individuals are also less likely to feel alone or isolated, both of which can lead to depression.
How important is a strong social network?
Of the more than 300,000 people involved in 148 studies that looked at the way social relationships affected the risk of death, the findings reveal that social support can increase survival by 50 percent. The participants’ age, gender, the status of their health, and cause of death did not affect the findings. What none of these studies reveal though, is whether ties with family and ties with friends produce different results.
What they also don’t address is whether social ties maintained through online social networking sites like Facebook are as important and have the same effect on longevity as in-person ties. Social networks can make it easier to stay in touch and rekindle older relationships. So an argument can be made that sites like these should not be overlooked. However, they probably should not become a substitute for in-person connections.
What does all of this mean?
It means that just as losing weight and increasing physical activity can help increase longevity, so too can positive social ties. It also means that if you’re looking for that magic bullet that can help you outlive previous generations, you may already have it. Just open up your personal phone book and remember all of the people who’ve made it inside and why.
Then if you haven’t done so lately, start reaching out to the names you’ve gathered over the years. If it’s been a while, it might be difficult at first. But soon enough you’ll be laughing and remembering good times and making plans to get together soon.
Life’s too difficult to go through alone. It’s a lot less fun and according to reports, it’s unhealthy, too. But remember, negative personal relationships are also unhealthy. So steer clear of those. Focus on the positive relationships with friends and family and soon enough you’ll start seeing positive results!