An active social life is good for your health

a group of smiling mature women out for a walk together


In this article:

  • Strong social networks can play a key role in maintaining good health. 

  • Recent reports show benefits emotionally, mentally and physically for people who spend time with others in nurturing friendships. 

  • It’s important for older adults to stay active socially for overall well-being.

Friends — it's not just a beloved '90s sitcom, but a strong predictor of good health. Social relationships have long been considered integral to a rich and vibrant life, and recent studies continue to reinforce that idea. Interaction with others — in person, not just on social media — can affect many areas of life for the better. Here are some great reasons for you to get out and join a book club, volunteer or catch up with a friend for coffee.

Being social helps us as we age. 

Spending quality time with others can boost our physical and emotional health. A recent study from the University of Texas at Austin found that older adults who were more social reported more positive moods and engaged in more physical activity than people who spent time alone.

Friendships also benefit older adults' mental health. Researchers at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine published a study that found that friendships were the common ground for people in their 80s whose brains functioned as if they were in their 50s or 60s, a group called "Super Agers."

In addition, a report published in Psychology and Aging said that social butterflies were generally more satisfied with their lives during their golden years. 

Being social may help stave off disease.

Laughter may be the best medicine, but friendship could be a close second. A large and vibrant social network may be associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, while people who don't go out socially very often may have a higher risk of developing prediabetes, according to a study from the Netherlands.

In other news coming out of Europe, an Irish study found that strong social connections may be helpful for preventing illnesses associated with aging. That research also mentioned the importance of volunteering, which allows people to socialize while coming together for the greater good. And a George Mason University study of postmenopausal women in the journal Menopause states that there is a relationship between having solid friendships and overall mortality. In other words, good friends can change your life.

Being social can keep you in shape.

If you've been going on solo runs, you may want to add a group fitness class to your workout routine. Researchers at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine recently released a study that found group exercise program members reported less stress and felt stronger mentally, as well as physically, after working out together for an extended period of time.

Find a doctor

If you have questions about your health, contact the primary care department at Swedish. We can accommodate both in-person and virtual visits.

Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.

Join our Patient and Family Advisory Council.

Additional resources 

Judge for yourself: RBG's workout is fabulous

Why yoga is good for the mind, not just the body

How decluttering can improve physical and mental health

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

About the Author

The Swedish Senior Care Team is committed to providing advice and actionable insights to help those 65+ live life to the fullest.

More Content by Swedish Senior Care Team
Previous Article
Care for yourself while you care for your new baby
Care for yourself while you care for your new baby

Make yourself a priority and stay healthy after childbirth.

Next Article
Spring Cleaning for Health
Spring Cleaning for Health

Spring is a great time to tackle cleaning, home projects, and organization. But when the Marie Kondo urge s...