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  • Social connections three generations at a park

    Social Connections

    Having friends and family prolongs your life by a lot.

    Smoking. Obesity. Lack of exercise. High blood pressure.

    And loneliness.

    Social Connections infographic

    You already know people should quit smoking, lose some weight and get regular exercise if they want to live longer.

    But researchers have found social connections are at least as important as any of those things—and might matter even more.

    Loneliness is widespread and deadly.

    Lots of research has found the same thing: People with no social connections end up with poor health. Here are a few things we’ve learned:

    • A look at 7,000 people during a 9-year study found those with no social connections were 3 times more likely to die than those with strong social ties.
    • A study of 2,320 men who suffered a heart attack found those who had no social connections were 4 times more likely to die in the next 3 years than those who did.
    • Researchers looked at nearly 150 studies and found a strong social network increases your chances of staying alive by 50 percent.
    • Being around people you care about releases good chemicals in your body, and changes you mentally and physically. 

    Make 3 friends and call me in the morning.

    The cure for this is easier to swallow than any medicine: Connect with people! 

    About 25 percent of us don’t have a single person we can confide in, but to be our healthiest we need at least 3 people we can count on. 

    If you’re feeling disconnected:

    • Share a meal with others. 
    • Leave your home and do something every day. 
    • Get to know your neighbors.
    • Limit your social media use. Talk to people in person instead!
    • If your loved ones live far away, try video calls instead of just talking on the phone.
    • Get involved in an issue that’s important to you. 

    Resources and tools