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October 02, 2014

The Benefits of an Active Social Life for Older Adults

You know there are a number of benefits to staying physically active as you get older. For example cardiovascular activity is great for heart health and weight loss, and strength training can help with bone mass, balance control, and even arthritis relief. But physical activity is just one part of staying healthy as you age. Another priority is social activity.

Maintaining an active social life can be a challenge, but the benefits make the effort well worth it. Here are five reasons to maintain an active social life as you get older.

  1. Staying social can reduce your risk of developing depression. Depression is sometimes common in older adults, so finding ways to combat depression is important as you age. Maintaining an active social life can help ward off the feelings of isolation and loneliness that can lead to depression. Surround yourself with positive relationships that enrich your daily life.
  2. Social activity can benefit cognitive function. Keeping a sharp mind is a priority for people young and old. Better cognitive health might be as simple as having regular conversations with friends or joining an activity group. Studies have shown that an active social life can improve cognitive function and even reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
  3. Similarly, an active social life can slow health decline. According to this 2011 study, being social can slow the progression of declining health. Participants in the study with active social lives developed health limitations at a slower rate or later in life than participants who led more isolated lifestyles.
  4. Being social can improve your physical fitness. Even if your social activity isn’t considered to be formal exercise, socializing still tends to get you up, moving, and out of the house. This helps to keep your body stronger and more physically capable as you age.
  5. Social interactions can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Being around people whose company you enjoy helps to lower stress, which can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of a cardiovascular event. By relaxing with your friends, you can improve your overall health outlook.

Even if you haven’t led a very social life in the past, you can start now to begin reaping some of the above benefits. Check out community activities, join interest groups, or reach out to a friend you’ve lost touch with.

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