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’ve studied longevity cases for a number of years, and it’s in-
teresting to note that there are a number of communities
across the globe in which people tend to live longer (namely:
Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and right here at home
in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia). While many cite that these areas are
warmer (allowing people to stay active) and have an abundance
of homegrown food (which attributes to a healthy diet), there are
strong community ties in these areas as well.
It’s hard to deny that a strong sense of community adds to quality
of life – feelings of belonging and attachment are great ways to
stay sharp and keep mentally fit. According to Dr. Robert Butler’s
“The Longevity Prescription,” one of the best strategies to a long
and healthy life is connectivity. A number of studies have led to
wide-ranging conclusions about the importance of social relation-
ships to individual good health. Having caring people around you,
or even just making contact with them by phone, via the Internet
or other means, leads to a special kind of health insurance. “So, a
way to longevity is greater interactivity in a social sense. We hu-
mans are social creatures: interdependent, adaptable and flexible.
As a species, we have evolved in a world in which we must rely
upon one another and, as individuals, themore we can contribute
to bettering that world, the better it will be.”
Ask yourself two pertinent questions: Have you made a difference
in people’s lives? And can you think of a way of doing so? This
could be as simple as volunteering within your community, join-
ing local groups or participating in community events.
It should be noted that remaining sedentary or distant within a
community could pose potential risks to overall longevity – it is
well-known that a sedentary lifestyle is a key risk of premature
morbidity and mortality (Journal of Epidemiology & Community
Health). Similarly, for older adults, a sedentary lifestyle presents a
by Jennifer Cox
Will having strong
community ties
add years to
your life?
greater risk of reducing a person’s physical function than it does
for younger adults. Not only do community groups and ties to
others within a community offer a comforting sense of belong-
ing, they also get you out there, meaning more movement and
exercise as well as psychological stimulation. Plus, it just makes
life that much more enjoyable when you have something to look
forward to...a surefire way of living a longer, happier life.
Further studies have proven this. PLOS (Public Library of Science)
Medicine journal has found that social relationships play an im-
portant role in health and longevity. An active social life – one
wherein an individual is involved with family, friends, coworkers
and community – may not only contribute to emotional well-
being, it may favourably impact physical health and longevity.
Researchers reviewed almost 150 studies to evaluate the degree
to which social relationships contribute to longevity and found
that stronger social relationships were associated with a reduced
risk of death of 50%. The reduced risk was present regardless of
gender, age, cause of death or length of followup. The nature of
social relationships was also important, with broader social con-
nections having a stronger influence than relationships within
the home (whether an individual lived alone or with others). The
researchers concluded that the positive impact which social rela-
tionships appears to have on health and longevity is comparable
to that of other lifestyle factors known to influence lifespan. In
other words, social involvement may contribute to health to a
degree similar to that of behaviours such as not smoking, being
physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.
So don’t shy away from those community groups in your area that
offer activities, meet-ups and outings. Get out there and
LIVE. There are simply no negative consequences to that!