Thursday, June 25, 2009

Here's to your health, friend!

We've recognized for a long time now the power and the benefit of social networks, social capital, collective efficacy and strong community connections among people. Social bonding contributes to quality of life wherever it is found. Creating such bonds among low-income neighbors is a crucial part of what we attempt to do here at Central Dallas Ministries.

A recent report ("WELL; What Are Friends For? A Longer Life," April 21, 2009) by Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times, provided more evidence of this powerful reality.

Here's what she says:

In the quest for better health, many people turn to doctors, self-help books or herbal supplements. But they overlook a powerful weapon that could help them fight illness and depression, speed recovery, slow aging and prolong life: their friends.

Researchers are only now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends. A large 2007 study showed an increase of nearly 60 percent in the risk for obesity among people whose friends gained weight. And last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.

Read Parker-Pope's entire report here.

Any stories of the healing reality of friendship and community that you'd like to share?



Anonymous said...

Social isolation is a major issue with the chronically homeless. When we take them off the streets and put them into housing, we have to really work with them to develop new relationships, otherwise it is likely that they will relapse with mental health and substance abuse.

Anonymous said...

Talk about spending money to help the poor and you'll get an earful. Talk about relationships with the poor and you'll get crickets chirping...