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Longevity tips: To live long spend time with friends, family — make sure they aren't toxic

Social ties have a stronger influence on health and lifespan

By Web Desk
November 10, 2023
A US family hugging each other in their apartment. — X/@istock
A US family hugging each other in their apartment. — X/@istock

Every healthy human being desires longevity and a new study has found out that for those who do not live alone, the chance of dying young may be decreased by spending time with close friends and family. Still, chances may be increased by never having family members visit except toxic relatives.

The results imply that certain social ties have a stronger influence on health than others.

Previous studies have connected worse health with social isolation. However, little is understood about how various social ties affect life expectancy.

Accordingly, almost 450,000 UK residents between the ages of 38 and 73 provided data on socialisation and loneliness to Hamish Foster of the University of Glasgow, UK, and his colleagues. Approximately 55% of them were female, and nearly 96% of them were Caucasian.

Every participant performed a one-time physical health evaluation and a questionnaire evaluating five distinct forms of social interaction between 2006 and 2010. How often they could confide in someone close, had visits from friends or relatives, felt lonely, and took part in weekly group activities was one of the questions on the questionnaire. And did it inquire whether they were single? The individuals were then followed up with by the researchers to see how many had passed away by 2021.

Upon controlling for age, sex, degree of physical activity, socioeconomic position, and chronic illnesses, the researchers discovered that each of the five categories of social connections had an effect on lifespan.

According to the study, social detachment has been related in the past to immunological deficiencies, cardiovascular problems including hypertension, and neurodevelopmental impairment. It could also be a type of stress, and stress has a bad effect on the body.

Individuals who expressed any level of social disconnection were more likely to have harmful habits including smoking, binge drinking, or not exercising enough, as well as a higher body mass index and more chronic health issues. The study also suggests that rather than being a cause of loneliness or social isolation, any of these characteristics may instead contribute to it.

According to Dr Olivia Remes, a mental health researcher at the University of Cambridge in England who was not involved in the study, persons who had visits from loved ones benefited even more from participating in other group activities, proving the importance of both in fostering a sense of community. Gill went on, "These could be religious services or hobby-based classes."