Good friends help you to live a long life
Blue zones are places in the world where people live longer and are healthier than the rest of the planet. People in the blue zones commonly live to be 100 years old. Generally, these people live a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, daily exercise, and a low stress life. Researchers are keenly interested in the habits and lifestyles of people in these zones.
The Italian island of Sardinia, is one of the world’s five blue zones. Sardinia has more than six times as many centenarians (100+ years old) as the mainland and ten times as many as North America. According to psychologist Susan Pinker, it's not a sunny outlook, healthy diet or exercise that keeps the islanders healthy - it's their emphasis on close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions. “In-person social interactions are not only necessary for human happiness but also a key to health and longevity.”
Dr Pinker studied the town of Villa Grade and found that elderly people are not left to live solitary lives but are surrounded by friends and family. The town’s density means all villagers lives intersect. We know that social isolation is a growing public health risk. Having regular face-to-face contact with friends and acquaintances, lowers stress and makes people feel healthier.
Lifestyle counts for 75% of longevity! Genetics count for only 25%
Study into the factors common in centenarians, shows some surprising findings. The following graph shows that ‘social integration’ and having ‘close relationships’ were more influential in factors in life expectancy, than other commonly accepted lifestyle factors, such as stopping smoking or drinking alcohol, regularly exercising, losing weight or treating high blood pressure. Having at least three stable and reliable relationships is associated with better longevity.
You may want to rethink your health goals for this year!