A recent study conducted in the UK suggests that socializing regularly with friends or family outside of one's household can lead to a longer lifespan. The study, which involved over 450,000 participants between the ages of 38 and 73, found that those who never received visits from loved ones had a higher risk of dying prematurely, even if they did not live alone. The research indicates that certain social connections have a stronger impact on health than others.
Previous studies have also linked social isolation to poorer health outcomes, but little is known about how different types of social connections influence longevity. To explore this further, researchers from the University of Glasgow collected data on socialization and loneliness from the participants. They measured five different types of social connections, including the frequency of visits from friends and family, the ability to confide in someone close, and participation in weekly group activities.
After adjusting for various factors such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, and chronic health conditions, the researchers found that all five types of social connection had an impact on longevity. The frequency of visits from loved ones had the greatest influence, with those who never received visits having a 39% increased risk of death during the study period compared to those who were visited daily. Even individuals who did not live alone had a 25% greater risk of death if they never received visits from friends or family. Participation in weekly group activities did not mitigate these effects.
The findings may be attributed to the quality of relationships. It is possible to live with another person but still have a poor relationship, which could have negative implications for health. Regular visits from loved ones may be crucial in maintaining positive relationships and overall well-being.
Interestingly, the study also revealed that the risk of dying during the study period was similar for those who received visits from loved ones monthly, weekly, or daily. The researchers suggest that even monthly visits may be sufficient to have a positive impact on health.
In conclusion, this study highlights the importance of social connections for longevity. Regular socialization with friends and family outside of one's household can reduce the risk of premature death. Further research is needed to explore the underlying mechanisms and to understand how different types of social connections influence health outcomes.