May 31, 2024

Episode 7: Social Connections-the 6th Pillar to Live Long and Well

Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Podcast Index | Overcast | YouTube

What you’ll find in this episode:

0:50 Introduction to the importance of social connections
1:49 Take-home messages
2:40 Study 1: when one spouse dies, higher risk in the surviving spouse
4:25 Study 2: Harvard Study of Adult Development
7:03 Study 3: Social relationships and risk of death
8:03. Study 4: Surviving with heart disease and relationships
8:38 Study 5: Mental health affects survival
9:41. Taking a relationship self-assessment


  • Today’s topic: Pillar number six – The Importance of Social Relationships
  • Social relationships add meaning and joy to our lives.  They also influence how long we are likely to live and how active and functional our later years will be
  • After reviewing key studies, I will explore how we can assess our social relationships and ultimately improve them

Scientific studies that support the relationship between social relationships and longevity

  • First Study: Impact of spousal loss on mortality-studies have shown that when one spouse dies, the likelihood of death in the other spouse doubles during the next week, month, and year.  
  • Second Study: Harvard Study of Adult Development showed that the presence of social relationship in your 50s was the strongest predictor of living long and well.  More impactful that blood pressure, exercise, or cholesterol control
  • Third Study: Meta-analysis summary of multiple studies showing the strong relationship between social connections and survival rate
  • Fourth Study: The risk of mortality in people with heart disease was greatest in individuals lacking significant social relationships
  • Fifth Study: although not specifically about relationship, this study showed the importance of mental health (depression) and the risk of experiencing a cardiac event

Assessing your own social relationships:

  • A self-assessment or social relationship audit can be found in this important article
  • Seven important aspects of social connections:
    • Safety/Security
    • Learning/Growth
    • Emotional closeness
    • Affirmation
    • Romantic intimacy
    • Assistance in need 
    • Fun/Relaxation
  • These seven aspects of social relationships need not be met by a single individual.  Having a network of people in your world can help you to have each of the needed support elements.

Personal Reflections:

  • Importance of immediate family and broader relationships for happiness and health
  • Strategy for maintaining connections even as one ages and loses close friends or relatives
  • Motivation to evaluate and strengthen social networks for well-being

Upcoming Topics:

  • Future topics to explore after the six pillars
  • Possibilities like nutritional supplements, caffeine, alcohol, sun protection, navigating healthcare, and finding the right doctor

Scientific research underscores the intricate interplay between lifestyle factors and human health. Exercise, a cornerstone of well-being, enhances cardiovascular health, boosts mood, and promotes cognitive function. Coupled with proper nutrition, it fosters optimal physical performance and supports immune function. Beyond the individual, social ties exert profound effects on health, buffering against stress and enhancing longevity. Meanwhile, exposure to hot and cold environments elicits physiological adaptations, bolstering resilience and metabolic efficiency. Adequate sleep, essential for cognitive consolidation and metabolic regulation, underscores the importance of restorative rest. Moreover, the mind-body harmony underscores the intricate relationship between mental and physical health, highlighting the profound impact of mindfulness and stress management on overall well-being. Integrating these factors into daily life cultivates a holistic approach to health promotion and disease prevention.


Begin your journey to improved health with my e-book,
"How to Live Long &Well."