Social Relationships And Their Connection To Good Health

2013-06-21 | |
Last updated: 2014-11-25

What makes life enjoyable for the majority of us is our active involvement with friends and family. This is to be expected considering that humans are generally social animals. What might be more surprising is that living longer by delaying or even preventing the development of many diseases may be possible when we have more social relationships and activities. On the flip-side, our physical and mental well-being can be harmed if we push ourselves to the limit without stress-reducing rewards and the support of our friends and family. But, the sexes are different and research shows that while women are more vulnerable to job stress, men really more on emotional support and social relationships.

Health Benefits For Men From Having A Spouse

According to some studies, like those from Harvard Medical Center, living with a partner is a great way for men to stay healthy. Strangely enough, the benefits are significant for men and less so for women. Of course, the obvious question is why and the answer is likely in front of us – women are caregivers by their nature and men are the one’s receiving this care. At the same time, however, women and men living alone have better health than those who have unsatisfactory relationships with their partners. We do not need to ask “Why?” here. Put simply, people’s health depends on have good relationships – both professional and personal.

The benefits of relationships to health come in many forms. Research performed by Dr. Laura Fratiglioni and her colleagues at the Stockholm Gerontology Research Center, observated that the risk (in older adults in Swedish) of developing dementia increased with increased social isolation. It was also found that the quality of social contact was more important than the frequency. Not surprisingly, those who had better relationships with their families and friends felt healthier than people with unhappy or stressful ones. The research specifically found that the Swedish adults in the study reduced their risk of dementia if they were in strong and happy relationships with their family, friends and the people around them.

Another conclusion from this research was that a lost relationship can and should be replaced with another if for no other reason that losses and break-ups increase an individual’s risk for social isolation. This is one of the reasons why people should continue to search for friends, partners in their lives. We all need to have happy and satisfied relationships and social activities in order to stay healthy.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Medical Research

Comments (1)

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  1. mmm1234 says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. My father recently retired and began falling ill far more than he usually did. He went to the doctor and they diagnosed him with depression although none of his life variables changed significantly, besides from the fact that he no longer interacted with as many people on a daily basis compared to his previous work environment. Once he signed up for a few group activities – joined a gym, train model groups, etc. – within a month or two he was moved to a lower dosage of medication and is doing much better! Although the doctor did not attribute my father’s rapid recovery from him joining a few ‘old men’ groups, I really think it helped more than we know.