A new study has found that older people who interact with a wide range of people were more likely to be physically active and had better emotional well-being.
This means variety in your social circle may help you live longer.
The research was done by a team from the The University of Texas at Austin. This is the first study that links social engagement with physical activity throughout the day.
Previously, scientists have found that people become less physically active and more sedentary as they age, which may pose a risk factor for disease and death.
Close social ties, like family and close friends, is beneficial to older people because they could provide a buffer against stress and improve emotional well-being.
In this study, the researchers examined more than 300 adults over 65 years old who lived in the Austin metro area.
They monitored participants activities and social encounters every three hours for about a week.
Participants also wore electronic devices to monitor their physical activity.
The team found when participants interacted with more social partners, they reported more physical activities, including leaving the house, walking, talking with others, or shopping.
Furthermore, participants who interacted more with family members and close friends, as well as casual friends, service providers, and strangers had more physical activity, less sitting time, and better moods.
The researchers suggest that although it is difficult to convince people to go to the gym or commit to working out on a regular basis, they may be willing to interact with others.
Being social could increase physical activity and diverse behaviors that benefit health without hard exercise.
Being physically active is a key factor to contribute to physical and emotional health, as well as cognitive ability.
One study author is Karen Fingerman, a professor of human development and family sciences at UT Austin and the director of the university’s new Texas Aging & Longevity Center.
One co-author is Debra Umberson, a sociology professor and director of UT Austin’s Population Research Center.
The research is published in the Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.
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