En­joy your friends and live longer

The Hamilton Spectator - - YOUNG AT HEART -

When Vic­tor Wasaba re­tired five years ago, he didn’t want to spend his golden years sit­ting on the couch watch­ing TV. The 71-year-old Win­nipeg­ger wanted to use his time away from work to be ac­tive and so­cial­ize with friends.

“Once a month I meet with the guys from my old re­pair crew and we go out for break­fast,” he says. “We catch up, laugh at all the same jokes and re­ally en­joy each other’s com­pany. It’s nice be­cause it gives me some­thing to look for­ward to.”

What Wasaba may not re­al­ize is that his reg­u­lar break­fasts are likely im­prov­ing his health. Many stud­ies show that an ac­tive so­cial life can help peo­ple stay heath­ier and live longer.

One study, con­ducted by re­searchers at Brigham Young Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, con­cluded that strong so­cial ties in gen­eral can be ben­e­fi­cial to both men­tal and phys­i­cal health. They found that an ac­tive so­cial life has been linked to a lower risk of cancer and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, greater abil­ity to carry out phys­i­cal tasks, im­proved hap­pi­ness, and bet­ter cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing.

Con­versely, a rel­a­tive lack of so­cial ties is as­so­ci­ated with de­pres­sion, later-life cog­ni­tive de­cline, and in­creased mor­tal­ity. One Har­vard Med­i­cal School study found that a lack of strong so­cial re­la­tion­ships in­creased the risk of pre­ma­ture death from all causes by 50 per cent. Peo­ple who smoke up to 15 cig­a­rettes a day have the same kind of in­creased risk, ac­cord­ing to the study.

There are many ways to keep an ac­tive so­cial life in re­tire­ment, like vol­un­teer­ing or pick­ing up a new sport or ac­tiv­ity. Com­mu­ni­ties in warm cli­mates, like Florida or Palm Springs, cater to ac­tive re­tirees.

One ap­proach is to re­visit friend­ships that lapsed dur­ing your work­ing years. That’s what Wasaba has done. “It gives me a sense of be­long­ing,” he says. “I al­ways make a con­scious ef­fort to stay in touch with ev­ery­one. Af­ter we meet up, I feel re­ally good about my­self for the rest of the day.” And he’s stay­ing healthy in the process.(NC)

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