Can loneliness shorten your life?

Can loneliness shorten your life?

Research from Brigham Young University discovered that loneliness and isolation can be just as much of a health threat as obesity.

“We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously,” said lead study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad in a press release.

Researchers analyzed data from a variety of studies on loneliness, social isolation and living alone. What they found was startling.

On average, study participants who were lonely were 26 percent more likely to die prematurely. Those who were isolated had a 29 percent greater risk and people who lived alone were 32 percent more likely to die early.

Medical experts believe that social interactions with people on a daily basis can help stimulate your brain and lead to a longer life.

“Social interaction helps to prevent depression, improves eating, prevents excessive weight loss, and helps to manage chronic disease and pain,” says Dr. William Rhoades, geriatric specialist at Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill.

The study also found that younger people who are isolated are at an even greater risk than older people when it comes to dying early.

“With loneliness on the rise, we are predicting a possible loneliness epidemic in the future,” said co-author of the study Tim Smith.

To potentially help increase your life expectancy, Dr. Rhoades has some helpful tips.

  • Exercise both your brain and body often.
  • Try a brisk walk for at least 20 minutes 4 – 5 times a week.
  • Never stop learning whether it’s learning a new hobby or attending a lecture.
  • Watching television, texting and spending time on the computer are all passive activities. Try to balance those activities with participation in a group like joining a book club or playing a game.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.