How do your friends impact your health? 17 Aug 2019In my last blog article, I explored how your social network including your friends and family impact your motivation to be healthy. Being part of a group, or better yet, lots of groups is good for your health. The kind of groups doesn't seem to matter - it could be a family group, friendship group, religious or spiritual group, tennis or book club. What is important is that you identify with it and see it as a meaningful part of your life. Here are five good reasons why?
- It can help you live longer
- "As a rule of thumb if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut the risk of dying over the next year in half" R Putman, Bowling Alone.
- An adequate social life provides health benefits on a par with quitting smoking
- The benefits of social ties are akin to those of exercise once you retire. In one study retirees belonging to two social groups had a 2% risk of death but if they lost touch with both groups it jumps to 12%.
- It can protect your heart
- Heart disease is generally lower for those who are members of a social group.
- The risk of death from heart disease diminishes if you belong to more than one social group.
- It can cut your risk of a cold
- Those belonging to a wide range of social groups e.g family friends, work, recreation or religious groups are least likely to come down with a cold. Six or more types of diverse groups cut the risk of a cold more than four times.
- It can alleviate depression
- The more social groups you belong to the less likely you are to suffer from depression.
- If you are depressed, joining a group can help you recover and cut the risk of a relapse by nearly a 1/4 if you join one group or by almost 2/3 if you join three.
- If you are a member of a religious or spiritual group you are less likely to have depressive symptoms and more likely to have feelings of well being.
- It motivates you to be healthy
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