Mind & Mood

Even a little socializing is linked to longevity

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By , Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

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Among its many health benefits, socializing is tied to reduced risks of early death. But how much socializing might it take to live longer? Maybe just a little, suggests a large Chinese study published online March 6, 2023, by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Scientists evaluated the health, lifestyle habits, and self-reported social activity of more than 28,000 people (average age 89) whose survival was tracked for an average of five years or until death. Within the first five years, the more people socialized, the longer they lived. Each of the following groups lived longer than the one before it: those who socialized occasionally, monthly, weekly, or every day. People in any of these groups lived longer than those who did not socialize at all. However, after five years, it appeared that only people who socialized daily clearly lived longer than the others. This is an observational study and can't prove cause and effect. Also, the authors didn't analyze the different types of social activity people took part in. But we know there are many important reasons to socialize, including links to lower risks for loneliness and isolation, dementia, and chronic disease. So set a goal to increase your social activity, such as calling a friend or getting together with one.

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About the Author

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Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

About the Reviewer

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Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff is the Steven P. Simcox/Patrick A. Clifford/James H. Higby Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and editor in chief of the Harvard … See Full Bio
View all posts by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

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