Interpersonal connection is one of the best things about being alive. People are infinitely interesting, and building a complex, layered relationship with another is one of the great joys planet Earth has to offer. But the emotional satisfaction of a good relationship is only one of the many benefits one can derive from pursuing a meaningful connection with another. Without further ado, here are three of the many ways good relationships help us age better.
1. Quite simply, relationships help you live longer
According to Harvard University, sharing your life with another is one of the healthiest decisions you can make. The science behind this is absolutely staggering. Social connections “influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking,” per the Harvard research. The effects of love are so strong, they can help reduce the risk of premature death by as much as 50 percent, “an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.” Love conquers all. Even, for a time, death.
2. Relationships help your heart
It’s astounding how quickly — and with how little science — humans recognized the truth about the human heart. The heart is so much more than a muscle that pumps blood: its well-being is finely tuned with our emotional state. Study after study proves this. The National Institute of health sums it up best: “Several recent review articles provide consistent and compelling evidence linking a low quantity or quality of social ties with a host of conditions, including development and progression of cardiovascular disease.” Your heart needs love!
3. Your brain loves relationships
Human beings are at their best when they feel love and support. The psychological benefits of a meaningful relationship are profound: stress levels go down, blood pressure decreases, and cognitive decline is mitigated. The best part about this? Giving support is just as beneficial as getting support. As the British Psychological Society writes of one relevant study, “Participants who reported giving support were also more likely to report receiving support, greater feelings of self-efficacy, higher levels of self-esteem, and lower levels of depression and distress.”
We don’t need to tell you that relationships are wonderful. But hopefully now you see that relationships aren’t simply nice to have, they’re essential. Your body needs love just as much as your soul. As if we needed another reason to love love.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program, or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.