How to live longer: Exercising with family and friends boosts longevity


Effective and beneficial lifestyle approaches and practices are crucial for individuals to have a long, productive and healthy life. A healthy lifestyle has many different elements including two habits done together to help reduce your risk of age-related diseases.

Numerous studies have found that consistent exercise is linked to longevity.

But those who report sweating with family and friends have even longer healthy life expectancies than those who went at it alone.

With a number of research linking social isolation with increased mortality, combining two healthy habits socialising and exercising could have a profoundly positive effect on your longevity.

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Research about an unusually long-living population on the island of Sardinia, Italy has showed that strong ties to family and friends, along with frequent physical activity, may contribute to their longevity.

A review of 148 studies that found that people who are isolated face a 50 percent greater risk of premature death than those who have stronger social connections.

Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, cited other studies that have suggested that social isolation carries a risk of mortality that’s similar to that of other major risk factors, such as smoking.  


In a study published in BMC, exercise in midlife for increased life expectancy was further analysed.

The study began: “Although previous studies suggest that exercise or sports, especially when performed with others, from midlife level have a positive impact on enhancing healthy life expectancy, there is paucity of information regarding these contexts and possible associations.”

The aim of the study was to clarify the relationship between engagement in exercise or sports among middle-aged persons and healthy life expectancy through an ecological study.

The results found that for middle-aged males, the ratio of those engaged in exercise or sports in each year from 2005 to 2010 was positively correlated with healthy life expectancy; this relationship was found in the ratio of middle-aged engaging in exercise or sports with families or friends.

For females, such a relationship could only be found in the ratio of middle-aged females engaged in exercise or sports in 2008, and those engaging in exercise or sports “with families or friends” in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

It concluded: “Prefectures with a higher ratio of middle-aged individuals engaging in exercise or sports, especially when done with families or friends, have longer healthy life expectancies.

“This was particularly evident for males.

“Thus, exercise or sports with families or friends in midlife seems to be more effective in promoting healthy life expectancy for males than females.”

Loneliness has been found to increase cortisol and inflammation both of which impact a person’s overall health over the long term.

Another study published in Sage journals, research participants were voluntarily infected with a cold virus and then had their symptoms monitored by researchers.

Researchers found that those who were socially isolated in life were 45 percent more likely to become ill.

While stress and loneliness can cause negative changes to one’s biological systems, taking time to connect with others helps to activate more beneficial processes including the release of oxytocin.

Oxytocin has been found to lower cortisol, reduce pain, change the way our brain responds to potential stressors, and even promote the growth of new brain cells. 



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