SUBSCRIBE NOW Just 99¢ for your first month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Health Fusion: Is it really better to give than receive? A new study looks at health benefits of social support

The COVID shutdown confirmed an aspect of human nature we sometimes forget. Having social support is important. But it goes beyond that. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams looks at new research that shows the benefits of social support may go two ways. It may be more important to your health to give it, than it is to receive it.

We are part of The Trust Project.

Researchers from Ohio State University say the healing power of social support may be a mutual thing. Their study shows an association between indicators of positive social relationships and lower levels of inflammation. They say that leaning on your friends and family may boost your health only if you're willing to return the favor.

“It may be that when people believe they can give more support to friends and family, these relationships are especially rewarding and stress-relieving, which reduces inflammation,” says Dr. Baldwin Way, an OSU psychologist involved in the study.

Their preliminary evidence suggests that the link between health and willingness to help others may be especially important for women.

For the study, the researchers sent questionnaires to more than 1,000 people between the ages of 34 and 84. The respondents answered questions about whether they were married, living with a partner, how often they contacted family and friends, and how often they attended social groups or went to activities. Plus, they noted how much they thought they could rely on friends and family if they needed help.

But lead author Tao Jiang says the most important part is that they also asked participants to rate how much they were available to support friends and family.

ADVERTISEMENT

About two years later, people in the study had blood tests, and those who said they were available to help others had lower levels of a substance called interleukin-6, which is a marker of inflammation.

The researchers say that the study only explored what people said they were willing to do, not what they actually did. But they also say results shed more light on the connection between relationships and our health.

The study is published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Follow the Health Fusion podcast on Apple , Spotify , and Google Podcasts.

For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Health_Fusion-1400x1400-Sponsor.jpg
Health Fusion logo Sponsor 1400x1400

What to read next
State leaders said the situation was expected to improve within four to six weeks as additional varieties come to market.
Two former Mayo Clinic employees — Shelly Kiel of Owatonna and Sherry Ihde of Zumbro Falls — filed lawsuits this week claiming they were unfairly fired for refusing COVD-19 vaccines. Their attorney said he will be filing more than 100 similar ones against Mayo Clinic as well as Olmsted Medical Center.
Ticks are out and waiting to hitch a ride and grab a bite. Out of you. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams has tips on what you should do if a tick bites you.
If signed into law by the governor, the legislation would prohibit life insurance, long-term care insurance or disability insurance carriers from declining or limiting coverage to living organ or marrow donors.