How Supportive Relationships Impact Health
Health is about more than just diet and exercise. As humans, we are social creatures. Did you know that during hunter/gatherer times, one of the most severe forms of punishment was being cast out from the group? People could not live on their own, and while that's not necessarily the way we live in current times, think about the past two years and how social isolation many have impacted you, and your health.
Healthy supportive social relationships are linked to everything from sustaining healthy behaviours to faster healing time and lower levels of inflammation in the body. As a health coach that focuses on supporting women with inflammation and autoimmune hair loss, this is very interesting to me! Chronic, low grade inflammation can have an impact on age related disease. So, how do relationships impact your health? Let's look at 4 benefits of healthy relationships:
Tag your workout bestie! When we have friends that have healthy behaviours, we are more likely to be healthy ourselves. The reverse is also true, if we have friends who are unhealthy and/or overweight, we are more likely to be unhealthy and overweight. If you want to become more healthy, find a tribe and friends that support the kind of behaviours you want to have.
Less Stress: Supportive social relationships are linked to less production of cortisol. You know cortisol--the stress hormone that goes through the roof when you are stressed out. People who have friends and partners are more likely to find emotional support in those relationships and may have less stress. Don't get me wrong, there are certainly relationships that DO cause stress, and if you have someone like that in your life, how is that impacting your health?
Better Healing: People who have support after injury or illness are move likely to have a quicker recovery. In a study done with women recovering from ovarian cancer, those who reported greater social support had lower levels of a marker of inflammation (IL-6) than those who reported less social support. This indicates a direct tie between social support, lower levels of inflammation in the body, and healing.
Longevity and Lifespan: Stressful relationships across lifespan can increase inflammation. Chronic, low grade inflammation can have an impact on age related disease and not having supportive social relationships can increase the odds of death in ways that are similar to the risks of smoking and obesity.
The moral of the story? Want to live a long healthy life? Have supportive friends around you and go for a walk with them!
I talk more about this topic in my weekly live video.
Share this article with your workout bestie! You know, that person who motivates you to eat healthy at lunch and makes you show up for that morning walk, run or workout!