If you take the experts’ word for it, diet and weight loss are key to a long, healthy life. Not so fast—science says that’s not always true. Before you cash in on a pricey gym membership, you might want to invest in your social circles first.
A massive scientific review suggests that loneliness could have more hazardous health consequences than obesity—and may even shorten your life. American researchers analyzed 218 studies, which involved nearly four million people total. Their data showed that lonely people were 50 percent more likely to die before the age of 70 than those with good social connections. Obesity, by comparison, increases the risk of early death by around 30 percent.
“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need—crucial to both well-being and survival,” said Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Professor of Psychology at Brigham Young University, Utah and the study’s lead author. Still, “an increasing portion of the population now experiences isolation regularly.”
Holt-Lunstad may be on to something there. The Campaign To End Loneliness reports that around 17 percent of older people see friends, family, and neighbors less than once a week. One in 10 don’t see any loved ones for at least a month at a time. Plus, a recent survey by the charity found that almost 4 million older people rely on television as their main source of company.
Don’t miss the warning signs that loneliness is hurting your health. If you feel depressed or anxious, cancel your appointments often, and/or can’t get a good night’s sleep, it could be a sign that your loneliness is taking a toll on your body. Thankfully, there are plenty of effortless ways to make friends as an adult—as long as you’re willing to take the first step.
Experts also say that retirement should be as much of a social transition as it is a financial transition. Since many people use their workplace as their biggest source of companionship, it’s important to begin creating steadfast friendships beforehand. Not doing so may be one of the things you’ll regret most in life, according to science.
If you’re feeling lonely, try any of these little things you can do to connect with others. Who knows? It could add years to your life.
Source: The Telegraph