Quality time spent during childhood is linked with physical health and better social integration in adulthood, according to data from a multi-decade study of men. Published in Psychological Science, the findings show that boys who spent more time with friends as children tended to have lower blood pressure and lower BMI as men in their early 30s.
“These findings suggest that our early social lives may have a small protective influence on our physical health in adulthood, and it’s not just our caregivers or financial circumstances, but also our friends who may be health protective,” says psychological scientist Jenny Cundiff of Texas Tech University.
In previous studies, researchers have found a linkage between adults’ social well being - including close relationships and social support — and health outcomes, including cardiovascular risk factors. The data was based on a longitudinal study called the Pittsburgh Youth Study. It also included data on individual characteristics, such as extroversion and hostility in childhood; physical health in childhood and adulthood; and family and environmental factors, such as socioeconomic status in childhood and social integration in adulthood.