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Social engagement and interaction are essential elements to any life. When you think of spending time with friends or going out to meet new people, you may assume that the only benefit is a fun evening with people that helps to stave off a feeling of social isolation. But, social engagement has many benefits for overall health and can help people to lead longer, more fulfilling, and enriching lives. So the next time you are wondering if you should spend a few hours out on the town with people, consider the many benefits.

By now, most of us are aware of the conditions that tend to cause the most adverse health issues. These conditions include obesity, diabetes, stress, smoking, and other maladies. It’s not widely known or talked about but loneliness and isolation can be detrimental to physical health just as much as those conditions. This is supported by a study conducted at Brigham-Young University and supplemented with a study from BYU and University of Chapel Hill North Carolina which discovered that those people with fewer social connections can suffer a 50% higher risk of dying within the seven year study follow up period. Furthermore, research also suggests that friendships greatly increase your chances for a long and healthy life, more so than even children and other relatives. This may be surprising, but it’s proof that social engagement has a positive impact on more than just the pleasantness from a single day’s interaction.

So the next time you have a bad day and think about the satisfaction and happiness you know you will derive from spending time with friends and being socially engaged, consider that your interactions with friends and even strangers (who could become friends!) actually improves your physical health as well, going far beyond just turning around a bad day. Spending time with friends can also lower your blood pressure and reduce inflammation in your body, which in turn reduces your risk of deadly conditions such as strokes and/or heart attacks.

Another benefit of social engagement is that you often pick up good habits from being around people whose company you enjoy. We hear about peer pressure and how sometimes bad behaviors are reinforced, but the opposite can also be true. When you are around good people, this can influence your own behaviors and help you to make better choices and grow as a person. As well, being around people boosts your mood which can sometimes help with acute instances of depression or feelings of melancholy. When you are having fun and are with people who genuinely enjoy your company, you feel more valued, fulfilled, and worthwhile.

Social engagement is so vitally important for your well being. The more you interact with people, the more you are boosting your mental, physical, and emotional health. Given how much stress can easily seep into our lives these days, it’s so helpful to know that just spending time with people can stave off feelings of depression, protect you from serious ailments, and keep you healthy without needing to resort to medicine or allot money to other health expenses.

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