A strong social life has been linked with many health benefits, like less risk of depression and longer life span. But a new study suggests that interacting with a wide range of people may offer even greater benefits.
The study, published Feb. 20, 2019, in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, found that older adults who interacted with people beyond their usual social circle of family and close friends were more likely to have higher levels of physical activity, greater positive moods, and fewer negative feelings.
The researchers asked 300 adults ages 65 and older to record their activities and social encounters every three hours for a week. They also wore activity trackers to monitor their movement. They found that the people who had more variety in their social interactions spent less time being sedentary.
The reason? The scientists suggested that while older adults may be more sedentary when they’re with their closest friends and family — for instance, watching TV together or lounging at home — they need to leave the house to engage with other people and thus have to be more active.