Dr Mosley on ‘very simple’ lifestyle tweak that could boost longevity

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Nobody can dispute the effectiveness of a healthy diet and physical activity when it comes to longevity. However, taking great care of your body seems to be only part of the trick. You soul might be hungry for something else – and it’s not green veggies and healthy fats.

If you haven’t booked in a date with your friends in a while, it might be time to pick up the phone.

Social interactions aren’t just a great way to keep in touch, they can also boost your longevity, according to Dr Mosley.

Speaking on his podcast Just One Thing, the doctor said: “Social connections may help you live longer.

“When scientists analysed the results of nearly 150 different studies, which included over 300,000 people, they found those with the strongest social relationships had the greatest life expectancy.”

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And Dr Mosley isn’t the only one to highlight the link between meaningful relationships and longevity.

The Harvard Medical School describes research about an unusually long-living population on the island of Sardinia, Italy.

Strong ties to family and friends, along with frequent physical activity, seem to be the secret behind the islanders’ long lifespans.

Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies, explained that the stress of isolation can weaken people’s immune systems, making them more susceptible to infectious diseases. 

She also shared that people with strong social connections tend to have better health behaviours, like eating healthy foods and being physically active.

All of these ingredients could be creating a simple recipe for a longer life.

What’s more, Dr Mosley shared that you don’t even need to have a huge friendship circle or a best friend, as “very simple” social ties can do the trick.

The podcaster invited Professor Pamela Qualter, from the University of Manchester, who is an expert on the importance of social relationships, to explain how this can be easily achieved.

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She said: “Very simple relationships actually matter quite a lot. Just feeling like you’re connecting.

“The interactions that you might have with people at the train station whilst you’re waiting for your train, or the person that’s making your coffee in the coffee shop.”

The guest expert explained that what makes socialising so potent comes down to hormones released by your body called endorphins.

Qualter said: “I think it definitely seems to release endorphins; you’re feeling better about yourself. 

“You’re feeling better about the community in which you live. 

“We know from quite a lot of research that volunteering, makes people feel a lot better in themselves, increases life satisfaction, [and] increases mental wellbeing in a similar way.”

If you’re not sure where to start, the professor suggested small steps like saying hello to a stranger or sharing a smile with somebody.

The end goal is to engage with people so you feel like you’re a part of the community, whether you have a quick chat with your waiter or a deep conversation with your friend.

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