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Senior couples playing cards on patio
Senior couples playing cards on patio

Enjoy your friends and live longer

(NC) When Victor Wasaba retired five years ago, he didn’t want to spend his golden years sitting on the couch watching TV. The 71-year-old Winnipegger wanted to use his time away from work to be active and socialize with friends.

“Once a month I meet with the guys from my old repair crew and we go out for breakfast,” he says. “We catch up, laugh at all the same jokes and really enjoy each other’s company. It’s nice because it gives me something to look forward to.”

What Wasaba may not realize is that his regular breakfasts are likely improving his health. Many studies show that an active social life can help people stay heathier and live longer.

One study, conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, concluded that strong social ties in general could be beneficial to both mental and physical health. They found that an active social life has been linked to a lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, greater ability to carry out physical tasks, improved happiness, and better cognitive functioning.

Conversely, a relative lack of social ties is associated with depression, later-life cognitive decline, and increased mortality. One Harvard Medical School study found that a lack of strong social relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50 per cent. People who smoke up to 15 cigarettes a day have the same kind of increased risk, according to the study.

There are many ways to keep an active social life in retirement, like volunteering or picking up a new sport or activity. Communities in warm climates, like Florida or Palm Springs, cater to active retirees.

One approach is to revisit friendships that lapsed during your working years. That’s what Wasaba has done. “It gives me a sense of belonging,” he says. “I always make a conscious effort to stay in touch with everyone. After we meet up, I feel really good about myself for the rest of the day.” And he’s staying healthy in the process.

Contact an advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. More information is available from an Investors Group consultant.