The 30-year study from the University of Rochester found that having more social interactions throughout your third decade of life is important to health later on, while in your 30s it is the quality of friendship that contributes to a longer life.
Researchers explained that frequent social interactions at age 20 are key to help us to figure out who we are. “It’s often around this age that we meet people from diverse backgrounds, with opinions and values that are different from our own, and we learn how to best manage those differences,” the study’s lead author Cheryl Carmichael said.
However, at age 30, the study participants who had intimate, high-quality friendships reported the highest levels of well-being at midlife.
It works the other way too, and people with poor social connections were shown to not live as long. “In fact,” Carmichael said, “having few social connections is equivalent to tobacco use, and it’s higher than for those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or who suffer from obesity.”
If that’s not the best excuse for margaritas followed by a late night pizza run with the squad, we don’t know what is.
To reach these results, Carmichael observed 20-year old college students, and then studied them again after 10 years. Of the original 222 participants, she was able to follow up with 133 participants.
If you’re feeling curious, you can find out more detailed findings and read up on the study method by downloading the full research report.