A recent study suggests that keeping in touch with friends is as important as a healthy diet and exercise when it comes to preserve a good health on the long-term.
Yang Claire Yang, senior researcher involved in the study and professor at the University of North Carolina, noted that the findings should make it clear to doctors and all people working in the health system that strong social bonds also play a crucial role in keeping their patients happy and healthy on the long run.
The study involved thousands of Americans who were surveyed on their social integration level and their health status. Participants answered questions about their friends, means of keeping in touch, and health indicators such as body mass index, blood pressure, family history of illness, and chronic inflammation which can usually up risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and other life-threatening conditions.
The study revealed the more friends a person had in their young age, the more likely that person is to remain healthy over the course of their lives.
According to the research, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, young people should create stronger bonds with friends if they plan to stay healthy and fit. Researchers noted that social ties and developing social skills were as important as a healthy diet and staying physically active for participants’ health.
Past studies had also revealed that people tend to live longer if their social network is larger. The recent research shows that social bonds reduce risk of illness in all life stages.
Study authors underscored that being a lone wolf may take its toll on your health on the long run. For instance, there is a direct association between social isolation and high levels of inflammation in young people. Plus, strong social bonds seem to shield young adults from obesity and weight problems in general.
The study also revealed that isolation in the elderly is more damaging to their cardiovascular system than diabetes. Researchers found that social isolation can boost their risk of high blood pressure and other troubles.
In other adults, health benefits were observed when social interaction was marked by quality not quantity. Study investigators concluded that in young years it is important to have a large social network, while in adulthood it is more important to have a few besties for maximum health benefits.
Nevertheless, scientists acknowledged that they found a link between social bonding and long-term health benefits not a cause and effect relationship.
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