How to live longer: Make time for the important things in life – positive relationships

Many people come and go during a lifetime. Loved ones are lost, and friendships and lovers move on. But nurturing the important relationships around you can help you live longer.

Researchers Berkman and Syme examined the link between social and community ties and mortality (death).

They utilised the 1965 Human Population Laboratory survey that documented data from 6,928 adults.

The Californian participants had a subsequent nine-year mortality follow-up.


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Results revealed that people who lacked social and community ties were most likely to die in the follow-up period.

The findings reported that maintaining healthy social networks can help people live up to 50 percent longer.

But how many significant social relationships are best for extending your lifespan?

According to researchers at Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina, four or more people is the best amount of significant relationships to have.

This is because it decreases your risk of early death by 200 percent.

Additionally, the researchers stated that “adjustments for income, hostility, and smoking status didn’t alter the risk due to social isolation.”

“Isolated patients reported less social support and were less pleased with the way they got along with network members, but they did not report less satisfaction with the amount of social contact received,” concluded the researchers.

Healthy social networks are linked to positive changes in the heart, brain, hormonal and immune function.

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This link was explored by researchers at the University of Utah who agreed that “social support appears to be related to more positive ‘biological profiles'”, lowering rates of mortality.

Researchers from the University of Texas said “social relationships – both quantity and quality – affect mental health, health behaviour, physical health and mortality risk”.

Emphasising this point, they detail how studies have shown how “poor marital quality has been associated with compromised immune and endocrine function and depression”.

Other studies they note highlight how “marital strain erodes physical health”, and the “negative effect becomes greater with advancing age”.


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Any stress-inducing relationship is likely to have a negative effect on your health.

This is why it’s vital to cultivate and nurture relationships that are healthy and mutually beneficial.

Research from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, suggests that strong social ties can help people to overcome stress more easily.

And researchers from the Department of Psychology, at the University of California-San Diego, support this.

Their research “indicates that the presence of a supportive other can reduce physiological responses to a stressor”.

Having solid friendships comes with effort and time invested in those relationships.

It’s paramount to be able to give support to loved ones and to be able to ask for help.

For a better chance at living longer, pick up the phone today and call someone who means a lot to you – who makes you smile.

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