Research that was recently published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences suggests that senior citizens with active social lives may improve their chances of staying strong and mobile as they age.
While physical exercise has long been known to prevent disability, this study suggests that enjoyable activities like going to dinner with friends, playing bingo, doing volunteer work and going on trips may also help the elderly retain their independence.
"Social activity has long been recognized as an essential component of healthy aging, but now we have strong evidence that it is also related to better everyday functioning and less disability in old age," said lead researcher Bryan James, Ph.D.
A team of scientists looked at the health and activity data of more than 950 individuals with an average age of 82. They found that participants who reported a busy social life were twice as likely to avoid disability than those who had a tendency to keep to themselves.
Authors of the study could not explain the correlation, but said it is possible that social activity improved the neural networks and musculoskeletal function that are necessary for carrying out daily tasks.