Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lots of friends and feeling in control help people stay healthier

 A lot of research concentrates on how people's bad habits - such as smoking, drinking and eating too much - can affect their health but researchers at Brandeis University in Massachussetts have been looking into the influence of more positive factors. They studied 3,626 adults, aged between 32 and 84, who were assessed over two periods about ten years apart. They found that physical exercise, having a good social network and feeling in control of one's life could delay declines in health by up to a decade - above and beyond the negative effects of traditional risk factors.

1 comment:

Mark Fairfield said...

John, your attention to ongoing studies of the effects of social isolation on health is much appreciated. Yet your paraphrase of the study conclusions slants the point in a way that worries me. "Feeling in control of one's life" is not quite how the investigators of the study described the "control beliefs" correlate. I would offer that this maps to efficacy, but more broadly as a "sense of having influence", which relates directly to the social engagement the study wants to underscore. In other words, the more engaged we are in social networks, the more we are participating in important decision-making that ultimately affects the qualities of our environment, social and physical. Seeing how we can influence these processes goes hand-in-hand with feeling connected and listened to. I just think this is an important, if subtle, distinction your paraphrase overlooks, making it sound as though there is some additional benefit that comes from "mastery". The study to which your blog links does not suggest this.