This blog post was authored by HMA clinicians Margaret Kirkegaard, MD, MPH, and Jeffrey Ring, PhD
While most people would agree that social relationships improve day-to-day quality of life, do social connections actually provide a health benefit? The answer is a resounding yes!
In 1921, a remarkable study began tracking the lives of 1,500 Americans from childhood to death. It sought to track what factors in life — such as faith, marriage, pets and exercise — increased longevity. The most significant finding was that strong social networks mattered the most. The quality of social connections was more significant than the quantity. In an interview with National Public Radio, lead researcher Howard Friedman notes, “We saw that over and above the number of connections and the frequency of interactions that when those connections involved helping other people, reaching out, being actively engaged to do things for others, that was an added bonus on top of what we already see as quite beneficial from the social contacts themselves.”