"Health is adding a level of intention to every area of your life"
- Miranda Anderson
Now, I'm not going to go into any of the controversies surrounding COVID-19 as many academics, doctors and other experts, far more knowledgeable than me, have already broached this topic in great detail.
I do instead want to focus instead on the overwhelming data that demonstrates the importance of human connection on our cardiovascular health. I'm sure if you speak with anyone around you they'd give you plenty of anecdotal data that supports how good they feel when they have a positive social connection with loved ones. I know for myself a good laugh with friends leaves me feeling lighter, refreshed, less stressed and happier. And while Zoom chats are wonderful, they don't replace an in-person connection complete with hugs, horseplay and true eye-contact.
There are also dozens of credible studies that have shown that human connection and strong social ties improve cardiovascular health and our overall longevity. Many of these studies have demonstrated that the sharing of caring behaviours reduces stress levels (which has a positive impact on our coronary arteries), and increases blood markers of stress reducing hormones. These studies also showed an improvement in insulin sensitivity, which, if you remember from my last post, is closely tied to cardiovascular health.
Looking from another perspective, other studies have shown that a lack of positive relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%. Now that is saying something! This is roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and is greater than the risk evoked by obesity and physical inactivity.
You can read more about some of these studies that looked at human relationships completed at Harvard University.
One of the best things about social connection is that it doesn't cost anything and doesn't require any fancy equipment to reap the many benefits!