Quality of relationships influences longevity, quality of life

There has been a study underway at Harvard University for more than 85 years. It started during the Great Depression and continues today under its fourth director.

The study started with 268 students enrolled in Harvard and tracked them through their entire lives. Today, only 19 of the original students are still alive.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development hoped to determine the greatest determinant of a healthy, happy, and long life. The results were surprising, according to Epoch Health.

It was not wealth, possessions, diet, exercise, cholesterol levels or other biological markers. It wasn’t even having a sense of purpose, which surprised me.

“By age 50, the greatest determinant of whether a person would live to 80 and be healthy was the quality of the person’s relationships,” said Dr. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist who currently heads the study.

“Cultivating a meaningful relationship, either with a romantic partner, a family member, or a friend, actually cultivates our health in the long term,” he explained. “They made it a priority to connect with other people. Powerful connections keep us happier and physically healthier.”

People can watch an interview with Dr. Waldiner on Epoch Health. Registration is required to see the video, but registration is free.