No, we don’t mean spend more time on Facebook, Pinterest or one of the other technology-based social networks. We’re talking about those face-to-face, intimate connections you have with friends and loved ones.
Here’s why: An active social life filled with supportive friends from a wide range of sources—church, sports teams, your monthly book club—has a protective effect on your heart, so it’s important to nurture that network. Research shows that people who are isolated in their 50s and 60s have more health problems than those who are surrounded by people who care about them.
A big circle of friends is so beneficial, in fact, that one study found it’s as good for your long-term health as avoiding cigarettes. Other studies show that during a stressful situation, our blood pressure and heart rate rise less when we have someone who knows us well with us.
Experts note, however, that not just any old connections will do. Focus on your happy, healthy relationships, and foster stronger bonds with those. So the next time you want to have a night out with your friends and your partner gives you grief, repeat after us: “But, baby, connecting with others is good for my heart.”