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Generic Brain Health

How social contact can keep you healthy

There’s nothing quite like a catch up with loved ones to leave you feeling happy and energised so it’s no surprise that social interaction actually plays a very important role in achieving better brain health.
October 13, 2022

How social contact can keep you healthy

There’s nothing quite like a catch up with loved ones to leave you feeling happy and energised so it’s no surprise that social interaction actually plays a very important role in achieving better brain health. It’s easy to become distracted with our everyday commitments that we can forget to prioritise the nurturing of our relationships with others. However, with research pointing more and more to the importance of social contact when it comes to our cognitive health, it might be time to finally organise that catch up you’ve been putting off.

The impact of loneliness

Being lonely can impact our mood and emotions but did you know that it can also affect the health of our brain? There is now early evidence to show that increased loneliness, limited social networks and unhappiness with one’s social contacts might be risk factors for dementia¹. Research has also found that a person with a high degree of loneliness was 2.1 times more likely to develop dementia throughout the course of the study than those with a low degree of loneliness¹. The upside? Coffee with a friend is looking pretty important right now…

Why social interaction is key

The research in this area highlights the impactful nature of social interaction when it comes to brain health. A study found that the more you surround yourself with good social connections and expand your network, along with deepening those relationships, the better it is for your risk of dementia². A review was undertaken of existing literature examining 65 studies with at least one year of follow-up. It found that social connection’s protective role in relation to cognitive ageing and dementia remained in place regardless of factors such as the duration of follow-up, sex or cognitive ability or performance³. Not only the number but the depth of social interactions you have are also important to take into consideration. Researchers suggest pairing a chance to interact socially with other activities that are said to improve other aspects of life such as physical activity³. The next time you schedule a catch up, consider going for a walk while you talk and optimise the benefits!

Staying connected

What are some ways to boost your social contact?

  • Make an effort to stay connected with loved ones. Try to pick up the phone for a chat rather than texting.
  • Look at expanding your social network. Sign up for groups such as a book club or join a sporting team, or look into volunteering. Research has shown that being more plugged into your community is key to good mental health⁴.
  • Why not reap two benefits for the price of one? Try to arrange a catch up in tandem with exercise, whether it’s a walk around the block or a fitness class — both tick the crucial brain health boxes of social interaction and physical activity³. It’s fun too!

Learn more about what it really means to age well.

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