Recipe for longevity: Friends and family

If you enjoyed an active and engaged lifestyle that included strong social relationships before retirement, be sure to do the same after you retire because you’ll likely stay healthier and live longer.

Studies – including one conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – concluded that strong social ties can be beneficial to both mental and physical health. They found that an active social life can be linked to lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, greater ability to carry out physical tasks, improved happiness and better cognitive function.

The reverse is also true:  A lack of social ties is associated with depression, later-life cognitive decline and increased mortality. In fact, a 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.

So, the obvious conclusion is to keep up an active social life in retirement. But don’t go overboard. You could choose to volunteer or learn a new sport or activity with fellow retirees, join a group travel program, or coach a team of youngsters – but only take on what you’re comfortable with. Stress isn’t good either.

Friendship is important – not just because it will help keep you healthier – but because friends are … well, friends.  So stay in touch and perhaps plan to meet with some of them every month or so for a breakfast or lunch.

There’s no doubt the “friend effect” will keep you booming and blooming through a long and happy retirement. And remember this:  Be sure to stay in touch with your professional advisor who can help make sure that you’re financially safe and secure for all the years of your retirement.

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc, and Investors Group Securities Inc. presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances.