Its been widely acknowledged by scientists that loners have a tendency to die years before others who are more outgoing. A research study was conducted over 9 years in Northern California that revealed that residents who were married or had partners AND engaged in regular activities like bridge or volunteer work were twice as likely to outlive their contemporaries who were loners. Critics of the study questioned whether the extroverts were healthier to begin with or if the loners had disabilities or depression that shortened their lives. The team that conducted the study controlled for all these situations. Interestingly, they all discovered that just because you felt lonely didn’t mean the mindset would affect you psychologically. New research uncovered that the amounts of social contact one gets is as import at as ones opinion. Dr. Holt- Lunstad claims, ” There are other determinants of health that are independent of our perceptions. Even if we hate broccoli or exercise they are still good for you.”
Hormones play heavily into why social interaction is so important. The relatively innocent act of shaking hands releases oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones “reduce stress, kill pain and allow us to let down our guard, all of which contribute to long term resilience .” Additionally, being with people can switch on and off genes that control our immune symptoms and rate of tumor growth. Also, it’s import at to note that being around people increases the likelihood of there being someone around to call 911. The recent example of Sheryl Sandburg’s husband who fell off a treadmill while working out alone comes to mind. So, let’s grow old with gusto, but mindfully!