Three Potential Health Benefits of Social Support
February 14, 2017
Recent studies are reinforcing something many scientists and doctors already suspected – there’s a real health benefit to having a social network of friends, family and the community. In a newly published article, the National Institutes of Health reviewed various studies that connect the benefits of social support to improved health and wellbeing.
According to the article, “Wide-ranging research suggests that strong social ties are linked to a longer life. In contrast, loneliness and social isolation are linked to poorer health, depression, and increased risk of early death.”
Having a variety of social relationships may support:
- Reduction of stress and heart-related risks
- Immune system response
- Mood and feeling of wellbeing
For example, married couples tend to live longer and have better heart-health than unmarried couples. And it turns out that when one spouse improves his/her lifestyle, the other is more likely to adopt those same positive behaviors.
The article also states “Other types of relationships are important, too. These can include friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, clubs and religious groups. Studies have found that people who have larger and more diverse types of social ties tend to live longer. They also tend to have better physical and mental health than people with fewer such relationships.”
The power of a social support system may also have the potential to transform the health of entire communities, in turn paying all kinds of dividends. Healthier communities means fewer health problems, a more productive workforce and greater healthcare cost savings.