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Study finds social butterflies in their 20’s are healthier and happier in their 50’s

Hang out with your girlfriends more - it could prolong your life down the track Image: Thinkstock

Lower risk of early mortality for those socially connected in their younger years

Study finds social butterflies in their 20’s are healthier and happier in their 50’s

If Lena Dunham and Sarah Jessica Parker were to star in remakes of Girls and Sex and the City decades from now, their characters would be beaming with health, according to a new study.

Research that charted people’s friendships beginning at age 20 and continuing to their 50’s has found that those with a healthy circle of friends in their younger years, are less at risk of early mortality.

Lead author Cheryl Carmichael from the University of Rochester said, “having few social connections is equivalent to tobacco use, and it’s higher than for those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or who suffer from obesity.”

The study showed that by extending your friendship circle in your youth, you create a tool set to reach for when you may be struggling in your later years. You expand your horizons and knowledge as you get to know people from different backgrounds and situations.

Participants of the survey who had regular social interactions in their 30’s, polled better in terms of enjoying a greater quality of life in their 50’s.

The new 30-year longitudinal study appears in Psychology and Aging, and involved asking 222 college students in the 1970s to track their social interactions in a diary at the ages of 20 and 30. Exactly 20 years after the last diary entry, the participants answered an online survey about their well-being.

The study that began when Carmichael was a PhD Candidate in Psychology, was the first so-called “diary” technique used to examine social activity as it occurs spontaneously in everyday life. Diary methods are now used widely as a means of examining social behaviour, and are considered to be more reliable as they chart progress over time, rather than relying on people’s recollections.

How do you feel your friendships now, will enrich your life in years to come? 

 

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