That Dinner for One You’re Pretending Isn’t Sad Is Literally Breaking Your Heart
Enjoying occasional alone time is one thing, but try not to embrace too much alone time because your lonely life might depend on it.
No matter how many vegetables are in your sad-desk-lunch-salad, a growing body of research has cited social connection as a predictor of longevity. And now, a new study has pinpointed the cardiovascular consequences of being a perpetual lone wolf — namely, it can quite literally break your heart.
To reach this conclusion, researchers recruited 310 men and women over the age of 65 who were recovering from heart failure and interviewed them about their social support, social activities, living situation and perceived social role to gauge what the researchers referred to as “social frailty,” which is a scientific way to call someone attention-starved. They found that people who met the criteria for social frailty were more likely to die from any cause within three years. Similarly, the loss of their perceived social roles — or the idea of feeling useful and depended upon — had the greatest impact on their mortality.
“We are the first to show a close association between the loss of perceived social role and long-term poor clinical outcomes in older heart failure patients,” Satoshi Katano, a study co-author and researcher from Sapporo Medical University Hospital in Japan, told PsyPost. “Our study highlights the real need to develop a management program that includes a social approach to the care of these patients.”
Although the specific findings directly apply to elderly patients with heart problems, they underscore the importance of human connection when it comes to living a long and healthy life. For instance, another recent study found that social isolation can lead to sleep issues later in life, which can negatively affect your health as well.
So if you’re eating too many of your meals alone, it’s gonna take more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. In fact, it probably all starts with dinner with friends.