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Rethinking the Importance of Your Social Network

That lunch date might just save your life. 

Technology allows us to stay more connected than ever before, without ever having to leave our homes. We can conduct meetings with people around the world, dialing into the same conference room. We can Snapchat someone in Paris while texting someone in Ontario while sending a Facebook message to someone at the North Pole. 

That’s incredible. 

But it comes at a serious cost. As we become increasingly able to connect virtually, the quantity and quality of authentic, in-person social connectedness suffers miserably. 

And it could be seriously affecting our health. 

A meta-study with a whopping 300,000 participants across all ages found that adults can expect an astonishing 50 percent boost in longevity if they build and maintain a strong social network. And when we say “social network,” we’re not talking about Facebook. 

According to the research, a strong social network “turns out to be just as good for long-term survival as giving up a 15-cigarette-a-day smoking habit,” and is “more crucial to physical health than exercising or beating obesity.” 

You read that right. 

 

More important than exercise. 

More important than beating obesity. 

More important than a serious smoking habit. 

 

We were stunned, too.  

Now, we’re not suggesting that you develop a bunch of bad habits thinking that your strong friendships will protect you. 

On the contrary. Why not double up on positive benefits? 

Meet a friend for a group fitness class. 

Meet a few friends for a delicious dinner made with real, fresh ingredients. 

Whatever you do, meet someone. In person. If you don’t already have a strong social network, it’s never too late to start. 

Places like the Saint Paul Athletic Club and University Club of Saint Paul are built-in social networks, filled with interesting, friendly people who automatically share something in common with you, simply by nature of your shared membership. 

Be well. Live longer. Be social.