The Single Best Predictor of Poor Health

What you're not doing could hurt you.

You quit smoking, you use a standing desk at work, and those late nights at the bar have been replaced with early mornings at the gym. The bad news? You're still catching every cold, you're lethargic, and the scale hasn't budged in months. What gives?

While cutting out those vices we know are bad for us can help keep us healthy, it's what we're not doing that could be predicting our poor health. According to Dr. Jennifer Stagg, a naturopathic physician and author of Unzip Your Genes, a lack of social opportunities could be holding us back from achieving our health goals. "A surprising predictor of poor health is lack of social connection," says Dr. Stagg. "Maintaining meaningful relationships can increase survival by 50 percent."

Research conducted at Cornell University suggests that our social circles are getting smaller. Just 29 percent of study subjects reported having more than two people they could talk to about important parts of their life. Unfortunately, a lack of social connection can do more than just make you feel isolated. Dr. Stagg says that being disconnected from others may be as harmful to your health as obesity, a lack of exercise, or heavy drinking.

Luckily, just because you're feeling lonely now doesn't mean you'll be flying solo forever. These surefire ways to expand your social circle will get you happier and healthier in no time. Just follow these tips. And fellas: If you're looking for more help in the friend department, here's how to build a bromance as strong as your marriage. 

Join a Local Team

Baseball glove

Kill two birds with one stone by joining a local team. Not only will you add some exercise to your routine, you'll also make meaningful connections with your teammates. A study conducted at Queen's University even reveals that team sports can help foster better social skills.

Connect Remotely

Facebook login

If you don't have time to connect in person, do it online. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America reveals that an active online social life can reduce your risk of early death.


Group volunteering

Do some good for yourself and the world by volunteering. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who volunteer tend to live longer, and it opens up a world of new friends to you, too. And when you're ready to revamp your life from top to bottom, start with the 40 Life-Changing Habits to Follow After 40!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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