The Zoomer Report: Relationships and Longevity

Here’s more evidence on how important family and friends are for your health. New research from Brigham Young University suggests that social relationships can predict a person’s odds of living or dying. The researchers found that social connections can improve the odds of survival by 50 per cent.

They combined the results of 148 studies that followed more than 300,000 people around the world for seven years. They concluded that adults with strong personal relationships may live an average of almost four years longer than those with weaker social ties.

And social isolation can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic. The researchers also suggest it does more damage than not exercising — and is twice as harmful as obesity.

The study authors figure that when someone is connected to a group and feels responsibility for other people, that sense of purpose and meaning translates to taking better care of themselves and taking fewer risks. Relationships also reduce stress and boost the immune system.

They also say the challenge now is to put this information to good use. The Globe and Mail ran an editorial calling on the government to stage a public health campaign – a war on friendlessness and social isolation akin to the war on smoking or obesity. It’s an interesting idea!

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About The Zoomer Report

Libby ZnaimerLibby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.

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