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Are Friends Good for Your Health?

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association indicates that young and middle-aged survivors of heart attacks are more likely to have a poor recovery if they don’t have a strong social circle. Here is a highlight:

“Studies like this are opening up a wide list of different types of risk factors than the ones we conventionally think about,” senior study author Dr. Harlan Krumholz, director of the Center of Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, said in a journal news release.

“We shouldn’t just be concerning ourselves with pills and procedures. We have to pay attention to things like love and friendship and the context of people’s lives. It may be that these efforts to help people connect better with others, particularly after an illness, may have very powerful effects on their recovery and the quality of their lives afterwards,” Krumholz said.

A strong social circle can have benefits beyond health considerations. For example people, who live in flood zones, or who survive natural disasters like hurricanes, often need the helping hands of friends and neighbors to get by.

Can a strong social circle influence your eligibility for life insurance? In some cases, it most certainly can. For example, let’s suppose a potential applicant is an alcoholic. His or her involvement with a support group, with a church group, with AA, and with other affinity groups tells an underwriter that the possibility of falling off the wagon is lower.

Some people do not have a strong social circle. How can they start one? For me the key is having a firm understanding of who you are. How do you identify yourself? Is it on the basis of your gender? Your religion? Your race? Your sports interest? Your profession? Once you determine that, then you can reach out to others who identify themselves in the same way. You have a natural connection.