Why Loneliness Is Bad for Your Brain and Body

mature female friends socializing in backyard
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Friendships have a lot going for them. A good pal is there when you need to blow off steam or share a secret. The right friend will even tell you when spinach is stuck in your teeth or that mustard yellow isn’t your best color.

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But life happens, and schedules get busy. All too often your pals get pushed to the back burner.

Researchers at Brigham Young University have found that going too long without a heart-to-heart with a loved one — or a laugh fest with a friend — may shorten your lifespan.

After looking at data from 70 studies involving more than 3 million people, the scientists found that loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of premature death by 30 percent. The two factors affect longevity as much as obesity does — and they’re just as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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The findings hold true for those who prefer their solo time, as well as for those who feel alone in large crowds.

The upside to this news, however, is that making time for meaningful relationships can help protect your immune system, reduce your stress levels and decrease the risk of developing dementia.

Learn more about why it’s important to take social relationships seriously as you get older when you activate your access to AARP Staying Sharp today! It’s easy to enroll and is included with your AARP membership.

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