Do Social Ties Affect Our Health?

Cuddles, kisses, and caring conversations. These are key ingredients of our close relationships. Scientists are finding that our links to others can have powerful effects on our health. Whether with romantic partners, family, friends, neighbors, or others, social connections can influence our biology and well-being.

Wide-ranging research suggests that strong social ties are linked to a longer life. In contrast, loneliness and social isolation are linked to poorer health, depression, and increased risk of early death.

Studies have found that having a variety of social relationships may help reduce stress and heart-related risks. Such connections might improve your ability to fight off germs or give you a more positive outlook on life. Physical contact—from hand-holding to sex—can trigger release of hormones and brain chemicals that not only make us feel great but also have other biological benefits. …more

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