BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A new study firmly concluded that friends are important to your health through all stages of your life, and might actually result in physical benefits. The social aspect of one’s life is not one that should be neglected, no matter how interesting the anti-social genius character appears to be in some fictional worlds.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina were the first to find a link between social activity during a person’s life and the effects on their health. The team drew data from four different studies representative of the U.S. population. They looked at the answers and health reports, measuring social integration, social support, and social strain.
On the other side, they also analyzed how all those factors influenced blood pressure, waist circumference, BMI (body mass index), and systemic inflammation. All of the examined elements could be linked to long-term health problems, such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, or diabetes. They were currently the biggest concerns surrounding the American population.
According to lead author of the study, professor Kathleen Mullan Harris, their findings showed that it’s important to keep a wide social circle both in the early and late stages of life. Either age group could significantly benefit from the presence of numerous friends, while social isolation could severely damage their health or lifespan.
Social bonds are an integral part of our lives and, while they should be considered with care, their existence could actually help us long-term. The more social ties a person has, the better their health will be both early and later on in life.
For adolescents, social interaction is as important as physical activity and maintaining healthy eating habits with proper nutrition. Having many friends is as vital as eating vegetables and regularly exercising, so neither of those three aspects should be neglected. In fact, social integration was deemed to help against abdominal obesity, along with fighting systemic inflammation.
For older citizens, keeping numerous social ties is also crucial to living a longer life. Social isolation was in fact worse than having diabetes as blood pressure problems are concerned. The significance of friends apparently does not deter with age. It’s important to stay active, and they might help achieve that.
The matters remained a bit different for middle-aged adults. For them, it’s not the number of friends that contributed to their health, but the quality. It seems that as people advance through adulthood, what is important is the social support that those crucial connections provide. While in the early and late stages of life the sheer number of social ties is important, the priority shifted from quantity to much needed quality for adults.
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