While we have become more connected with social media, we have become more disconnected from face to face interaction. And even though many are living longer thanks to the medical industry, could we increase our health benefits with friendships?
Are you a loner? Do you have a ton of acquaintances, but no real pals or gals to share things with? Or are you blessed with a handful or friends that you can rely on or for anything? Those in the ladder two categories may be healthier and tend to live longer than those in the first.
According to numerous studies, researchers have found that those who have deep social relationships are less likely to die prematurely than people who are cut off from interactions with others. Their conclusion is that those in one’s social network help alleviate stress which is associated with the body breaking down and becoming ill.
In an attempt to see the biological effects of friendships, a study was done at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Sociologist Yang Clair Yang and her colleagues tested blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumferences and inflammation levels of the social and the isolated. Their work was reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (January 2015). They determined that those who lacked social connections had more than double the risk of high blood pressure. And in an effort to keep cause and effect consistent with their hypothesis, this study comprised thousands of participants from ages 12 to 91 over a long period of time.
In 2012, dementia risk was researched in the Netherlands. Two thousand mind-healthy residents aged 65 or older were studied over three years. The examination found 13.4 percent of those who reported to feel lonely at the start of the study developed dementia. That is compared with 5.7 percent who reported they didn’t feel lonely.
Believe it or not, apparently you are what your friends eat. Yes, numerous reports indicated that when one person gains weight, so do those in their social circle. However, the opposite has proven true as well. So, if you want to lose weight, hang out with your friends that are losing weight too! And avoid your obese friends at all costs. No, just kidding!
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While staying in touch with friends who live all around the world via Facebook and FaceTime, there is nothing like reaching out and touching a friend that is right next to you! Remember, you can increase your health benefits by increasing your friendships.
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