Love And Togetherness Help Us Live Longer

strong-relationships.jpgHaving great friends, a strong marriage and children who love you may be just as important to living a long life as something like quitting smoking, a new study finds.

Researchers from Brigham Young University have found that people who have lots of close relationships have better odds of living a long life than those who are lonely.

The study, which appears in the July issue of PLoS Medicine, found that strong social connections improve our odds of survival by 50 per cent. In fact, the protective effect of strong social relationships exceeds the influence of other early-death risk factors, such as not exercising and obesity.

Low social interaction, on the other hand, is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.

"The idea that a lack of social relationships is a risk factor for death is still not widely recognized by health organizations and the public," write PLoS Medicine editors in a summary of the study.

To reach their findings, BYU psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad and counseling psychology professor Timothy Smith analyzed data from 148 previously studies. All were longitudinal studies that measured frequency of human interaction. Together, these studies included 308,849 people who were followed for about 7.5 years, on average.

Holt-Lunstad says there are lots of ways that friends and family can influence health for the better, ranging from the comfort provided by physical contact and providing finding meaning in life.

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Photo Credit:
AP / Greg M. Cooper

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