Stay Active for Better Health
No, not physically active (although that’s extremely important, too). We’re talking about staying socially active to stay healthy. That’s right, your ties with friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, former schoolmates, or even neighbors are just as important as, well, your choice in breakfast and your exercise routine.
A recent review of 148 studies done at Brigham Young University found that people with stronger social relationships had a 50% lower risk of dying than those with weaker relationships.
Researchers labeled “social relationships” a new health risk factor. In fact, according to the study, the harm of weak relationships is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes per day or being an alcoholic. Social ties can be more harmful than being obese or not exercising.
Health – “That’s What Friends Are For”
We humans are naturally social. Unfortunately, the quality and quantity of authentic relationships are dying down. The study, published in Plos Medicine, found that the number of Americans who report being lonely has increased three-fold in just two decades.
That statistic is alarming considering the exponential growth in online communities and social networks. However, it begs the questions: how healthy are our relationships? Are our friends a relief or a source of stress? Within the online community, our friends may be our “followers”. However, are all our “followers” our friends?
We take smoking, exercise, diet, alcohol consumption, family history, and similar risk factors seriously. This study offers compelling evidence that it’s time to take social relationships seriously, too. Cultivating meaningful relationships can exert a positive and protective effect on our psychological and physical health.