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Science claims that feeling socially integrated can not only help us sleep better and age better.

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This article has been translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors can occur due to this process.

This story originally appeared on Foro Económico Mundial

By Iris Reguera de Vitonica

In adults, good social relationships and a sense of social integration can not only help us sleep better and age better, but are also linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure. Now it seems that not only our relationships as adults have an impact, but the type of relationships we have in childhood can also affect our health afterwards.

This is what they're finding in recent research done by the University of Texas and the University of Pittsburgh. The researchers used a longitudinal sample of 256 people – all men. Previous research found that peer relationships can only predict cardiovascular health in women, not men.

That is why this research is focused on men. The idea was to test whether children who were more integrated and had better social relationships with their peers than adults had better blood pressure and lower body mass index.

In fact, they found that the children who, according to their parents, appeared to be more integrated had lower blood pressure and body mass 20 years later. In addition, they found that the results did not differ based on the origins of the subjects studied and that they were not explained in terms of other variables such as childhood body mass index, socioeconomic status, childhood mental health, and level were affected by extroversion in adolescence or even due to their level of social integration as adults.

Based on these results, the researchers suggest that early integration with peers may be linked to physical health in adulthood. In particular, they point out that it is relevant in relation to high blood pressure and obesity.

It's interesting research when it comes to cardiovascular health, but there are a number of limitations. The investigations carried out initially do not explain the psychobiological mechanisms that would explain the connection between social relationships and a lower cardiovascular risk. Therefore, no causality can be derived from these investigations alone.

In addition, their measurement of social inclusion is based on the time parents report their children spend with other peers. In other words, it measures the time per week they spend interacting with other children, but it does not measure the quality of those relationships, including variables that might alter or at least qualify the results.

This is an interesting study that could highlight the importance of childhood social relationships regardless of gender, origin, or socioeconomic status, but the limits of which leave many questions unanswered.

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