Health importance of social interactions
World Health Organization suggests that the biggest threats to our health, globally, are now chronic degenerative conditions, not infectious diseases. What an evolution! As opposed to various epidemics of diseases that were so common in our history, what is now threatening health, across the planet is chronic degenerative inflammatory conditions – diseases that we most fear. These include things like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and autoimmune conditions as well.
Increased social connections may promote longevity and increased vitality by reducing the risk of heart disease, hypertension, perhaps some cancers, and even infectious diseases. Indeed, social connectedness appears to be one of the more important factors in heart disease prevention. A Swedish study, for example, found that a person’s social contacts — with a spouse, relatives, friends, church and other community involvements, and so on — were a better predictor of the risk of heart attack than any of the accepted biomedical risk factors such as hypertension and an adverse blood cholesterol profile, although this study didn’t measure exercise or diet.
Social interaction has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression by reducing feelings of loneliness, isolation and anxiety. Confiding in a friend can do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem, making you feel happier. For those of us who may be coping with a disease or condition, social interaction allows us to continue with our daily life and feel as normal as possible.
Studies have suggested that socializing may be as effective as a daily crossword puzzle for improving the mind. Increased social interaction improves brain function as it constantly engages and exercises the mind, while maintaining cognitive function helps ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Even as we age, it’s important to maintain close relationships and large social networks. Research has shown that memory, activity levels and cognitive function are all improved by social activity and engagement.