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Healthy Life

How to have a busy social life can help ‘slash your risk of 11 silent killers’

GOOD friends keep you healthy in middle age, a study found.

Staying close to mates and family in your late forties reduces the risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

Research found women were happier with their social lives in middle age were healthier as they got old (stock image)

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Research found women were happier with their social lives in middle age were healthier as they got old (stock image)credit: Getty

People with happy social lives are more protected from mental health problems and are more likely to visit their doctor.

Research by the University of Queensland in Australia used data from 7,700 Aussie women aged 45 to 50.

Study author Dr Xiaolin Xu said: “Our findings show the benefits of starting or maintaining high quality social relationships throughout middle age to early old age.

“Social connections should be considered a public health priority.”

The study asked women how satisfied they were with relationships with their partners, friends and family members.

Over 20 years it then tracked rates of 11 key conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety.

Women who started off were least happy with their social lives were 2.4 times as likely to come down with more than one illness.

Writing in the journal General Psychiatry, Dr Xu said: “Given that well-established risk factors only contribute to a small part of the link, social relationship satisfaction itself may be involved.”

NHS doctors are pushing more “social prescribing” and sending patients to groups and clubs to improve their overall health.

Another study found exercising just once a month is enough to keep your brain sharp.

A 30-year study of 1,417 Brits found people who were physically active had sharper minds at age 69.

They were brainier even if they had only exercised one to four times per month, compared to couch potatoes.

Scientists said in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry: “The maintenance of activity across adulthood may be more important than the timing.”