Loneliness and Health
Human beings are social beings. I think that is clear to everybody. But what some of you may not know is that loneliness is actually bad for your health. Recent research has provided evidence on how relationships can positively affect health and correlate to the prevention of diseases. Curious to know how? We tell you.
The research is a compilation of studies performed with more than 14,000 Americans, from adolescents to older adults. The researchers collected variables corresponding to the participants’ relationship status as well as health status. Regarding social relationships, the variables included social support (e.g., reliability of family members), social integration (e.g., frequency of contact with other people), and social strain (e.g., frequency of criticism from friends). Considering the health status, they measured the blood pressure, waist circumference and body mass of the participants. Naturally, these are not the only variables that measure whether a person is healthy or not. However, several studies have already shown how they can be good predictors of diseases and mortality.
The relationship between loneliness and health
Overall, the findings point to the direction that more socially integrated people with high-quality relationships are healthier throughout the lifespan.
- People from all age groups presented higher blood pressure when they spent less time with others (i.e. were less socially integrated).
- Adolescents were more likely to be obese when they spent less time with others.
- Adults were more likely to be obese when they had less social support.
- Older adults were less likely to develop hypertension if they spent more time with other people.
- The link between hypertension and lack of social integration was stronger than the link between hypertension and diabetes.
In summary, what these results show us is that maintaining relationships, having a supportive social network and socializing more can indeed be good for health.
Don’t let yourself fall into loneliness and social isolation!
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