A U.S. study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found that social relationships can be as important to good health as diet and exercise.
Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study provides insight into how social connections can affect health throughout our lives.
“In adolescence, social isolation increased the risk of inflammation in the body the same amount as physical inactivity. In old age, social isolation had an even more harmful effect on blood pressure than diabetes.”
In the study, the team of researchers looked at four nationally representative surveys on the U.S. population to assess social relationships through different stages of life, from adolescence to old age and looked at three different parts of social relationships: social integration, social support, and social strain.
To see how social connections at these different stages of life could affect health, the team also measured four key factors that are used when assessing mortality risk: blood pressure; waist circumference; body mass index; and levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation in the body related to the immune system.
The results showed that social isolation could have the same negative effect on health as other risk factors, with the team finding that in adolescence, social isolation increased the risk of inflammation in the body the same amount as physical inactivity, and in old age, social isolation had an even more harmful effect on blood pressure than diabetes. Social integration was also shown to protect against abdominal obesity.
The team found that different factors of social relationships are more or less important at different stages of life: The size of a person’s social network was particularly important for health in early and late adulthood, but in middle adulthood, it was more quality than quantity, with the levels of support provided by social connections proving to be more beneficial to health than simply the number of connections.
Social isolation is top of mind now more than ever before but for Amintro, it’s always been the cornerstone of everything we do. Adults 50+ are using Amintro’s free social platform and information hub because they’re interested in meeting new people and connecting with others for the purposes of increasing their communities and network; as well as having access to relevant information and resources for them.
We focus on social inclusion; on bringing people together online and offline; on building social communities locally. If you or someone you know is 50+ and would benefit from growing their social network and meeting new people, why not consider creating an Amintro account? What do you have to lose?