Apart from right the diet and the right exercise, the right company also have an influence on our well-being and better health. Researchers have found that our social networks – in person and online – can influence obesity, anxiety and overall happiness. A recent report also found that a person’s exercise routine was strongly influenced by his or her social network.
In Okinawa, Japan, a place where the average life expectancy for women is around 90, the oldest in the world, people form a kind of social network called a moai – a group of five friends who offer social, logistic, emotional and even financial support for a lifetime.
“It’s a very powerful idea,” Dan Buettner, a National Geographic fellow and author said. “Traditionally, their parents put them into moais when they are born, and they take a lifelong journey together.” Buettner has studied the health habits of people who live in so-called blue zones – regions of the world where people live far longer than the average.
In a moai, the group benefits when things go well, such as by sharing a bountiful crop, and the group’s families support one another when a child gets sick or someone dies. They also appear to influence one another’s lifelong health behaviours.
“I argue that the most powerful thing you can do to add healthy years is to curate your immediate social network,” says Buettner, who advises people to focus on three to five real world friends rather than distant Facebook friends. “In general you want friends with whom you can have a meaningful conversation,” he said. “You can call them on a bad day and they will care. Your group of friends are better than any drug or anti-aging supplement, and will do more for you than just about anything.”