Socializing Trumps Exercise in Combating Aging

  • By Kim Chul-joong

    August 28, 2021 08:32

    "You are as old as you feel," the saying goes, but amid the boredom of lockdown many people are starting to feel their age. Then how can they shed a few years and a few pounds to feel better about themselves?

    The Institute of Gerontology at the University of Tokyo looked at the aging of 50,000 people aged 65 or over in Tokyo and the surrounding region. One group exercised alone, and the other group did not necessarily exercise but spent time with other people. The group that exercised alone was at three times greater risk of aging.

    That suggests that socializing is more important than exercise to keep people's spirits up and their happiness hormones flowing. Spending time with others also involves getting around, helps reduce depression and injects a spring in your step. 

    Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital tracked 2,427 senior citizens over four years to find out how going out or socializing with others affected their physical vitality.

    They checked if they either went out at least once a day or met with or talked on the phone with someone else at least once a week.

    Naturally those who did both scored the highest, but it was interesting that among those who did just one of the two, those who interacted with others scored better than those who regularly went out. That means having a chat had a bigger impact than going on a hike alone.

    Due to the pandemic, many more people are have been cut off from social interaction for over a year and a half. Even sticking to a regular health regime is not enough, so it is vital to check in with others even just on Zoom or on the phone. 

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