Mobility Is Key to Maintaining Social Networks As We Age
Staying mobile and socially connected are key to well-being at every age.
Posted Dec 02, 2013
It is common sense that if someone is immobile that he or she will quickly become isolated and disconnected. Hopefully, these findings will serve as an inspiration for you to stay healthy, mobile, socially active—and to help your friends and loved ones do the same.
The new study titled, “Do mobility, cognitive functioning, and depressive symptoms mediate the association between social activity and mortality risk among older men and women?” was published November 2013 in the European Journal of Ageing.
Katja Pynnönen, a Ph.D. student from the University of Jyväskylä, Department of Health Sciences in Finland explains, "The health-enhancing influences of social activity may be partly explained by better mobility among persons who are socially active. Moreover, social activity may maintain mobility and thus decrease mortality risk, as many social activities also include physical activity."
Social Connection Improves Well-Being and Mobility
Brené Brown has done extensive research on the benefits of social connection and the importance of feeling worthy of love and belonging. If you have not seen her TED lecture yet, please take some time to watch it here.
Prosocial behavior and helping others was another specific example of productive social activity that the Finnish researchers took into account. This Finnish study adds more scientific proof to the physiological and cognitive benefits of social connectivity and loving-kindness towards others.
The social capital built through altruism and acts of kindness creates an upward spiral of well-being. Other studies have linked this pro-social upward spiral to improved vagal tone, reduced cortisol, and increased oxytocin.
"Good cognitive functioning and having less depressive symptoms seemed to be prerequisites for social activity. Thus, it is important to recognize and take into account those older people who have memory problems and are melancholy, and may need extra support to participate in social activities," says Pynnönen.
Conclusion: Social Activity, Mobility, Cognitive Function, and Longevity are Intertwined.
Social activity and mobility are directly linked to well-being throughout our lifespan. This study confirmed that mobility, cognitive functioning, and depressive symptoms mediate the association between social activity and mortality risk in older Finnish men and women.
The association between social networks and mortality is directly linked to a person's level of mobility. Good cognitive functioning and having less depressive symptoms are intertwined with the ability to maintain social activity via good health and mobility. Making healthy daily lifestyle choices that include physical activity and social connectivity will inherently help to maintain mobility into old age.
If you'd like to read more on this topic please check out my Psychology Today blog posts:
- “The “Love Hormone” Drives Human Urge for Social Connection”
- “Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone Keeps You Sharp”
- “25 Studies Confirm: Exercise Prevents Depression”
- “Social Connectivity Drives the Engine of Well-Being”
- “Optimism Stabilizes Cortisol Levels and Lowers Stress”
- “Positive Actions Build Social Capital and Resilience”
- “Exercising at a “Conversational Pace” Is Good for Your Brain”
- “4 Lifestyle Choices That Will Keep You Young”
- “Why Is Dancing So Good for Your Brain?”
- “Fear of Falling Creates a Downward Spiral”
- “What Daily Habit Can Boost “Healthy Aging” Odds Sevenfold?”