Having regular interactions and being involved in several different social networks can help older adults be healthier, according to new research.
“Close connections with others are likely to promote but can also sometimes detract from good health by shaping daily behaviour that directly affects physical health,” said Lynn M Martire from Pennsylvania State University.
Social networks are associated with more involvement in leisure activities, which, in turn, can lead to better health in older adults.
Leisure activities involving physical exercise were the most beneficial.
“In some cases, the behaviour may have to do with physical activity and in others, it might be related to diet or managing a chronic disease, such as diabetes,” Martire added.
The influence of social relationships on mortality risk is comparable to that of smoking and alcohol consumption, according to previous research.
However, negative social interactions have been linked to harmful coping behaviours such as smoking, drinking alcohol and less physical activity, the study said.
The study was published by the American Psychological Association in the journal Health Psychology.