The key to anti-aging? Good times with good friends says Prof. Kenny – MyNorthwest

What’s the secret to a long life? It’s probably not what you think.

Surrounding yourself with quality friendships and social engagement is a powerful deterrent to aging, Professor Rose Kenny, author of Age Proof, told Dave Ross.

It is equally as important as maintaining a good diet, exercise, and low stress, she said.

Those who experience loneliness or stressful relationships, which often come from family or marriage, will likely experience an accelerated effect on biological aging.

“Social engagement frequency of engaging with friends, having a good laugh with friends, having quality friendships is as important as the other well-known markers and behaviors,” Kenny told Ross.

She added: “There’s lovely data showing that the more engaged you are, and the less likely you are to experience loneliness, the less likely you are to get dementia.”

Her hypothesis is that “our need for each other has evolved so that we can exist as a community and as a tribe.”

Different levels of stress also play a key role in how people age.

“Your genes are only responsible for 20% of the aging process, maybe 30%, and we know this from identical twin studies, where their genes are exactly the same, but of course, the twins age at different biological rates, just depending on what their life course has been like: the stress in their lives; their health behaviors; diet; nutrition; etc; physical activity,” Kenny said.

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But in a society where many families are challenged with issues more immediate and pressing, education on the importance of social interaction might not land high on their priority list, Kenny said. The other roadblock to implementing these health changes is the difficulty of addressing mental health issues like anxiety and depression in a systematic way.

“Translating these hard facts into something meaningful at a societal level is challenging, so although the reach is there …the actual change in policy as a result of the studies is slow. That’s the same worldwide with many studies,” she said.

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