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A New Reason to Grow Your Real-Life Social Network

Research shows that being socially isolated can increase your risk of dying young.
Nick Ferrari

Good news: To live longer, you just need to spend more time with other people. What’s the catch? To do it, you’ll have to buck the trend.

A brand new BYU study analysis shows that not only are we becoming more socially isolated, but that this also raises our risk of dying early by up to 32%—as much as obesity, substance abuse, or lack of health care. (The authors’ past research even showed living alone can be just as deadly as smoking 15 cigs a day or being an alcoholic.)

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The study goes on to predict that, by 2030, there will be a health-impairing loneliness epidemic among people under 65 (read: you). “All developed countries show increased trends for living alone—the highest in recorded history,” says study co-author Tim Smith, Ph.D.

And though it’s not clear exactly why socially isolated folks are less healthy—Smith speculates they may have poorer self-care, no family to push them to seek treatment, and a lower passion for life—there’s no disputing that they are.

So if you want to stick around for a while, limit your endless “social” networking (which can actually be pretty unsocial), go out instead of ordering/eating/staying in, and keep forging real-life friendships. Other humans need you—and you need them. 

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