Key points from article :
A study tracking over 7000 middle-aged and older Canadians for around three years found a strong correlation between social participation and successful aging.
Participants who took part in volunteering or recreational activities were more likely to maintain good health and less likely to develop physical, cognitive, mental, or emotional issues over the study period.
Successful aging was defined as the absence of any serious conditions inhibiting daily activities, self-reported happiness, and good physical and mental health.
The study showed that 72% of participants engaged in volunteer or recreational activities were still aging successfully three years later, compared to just two-thirds of non-participants.
Taking into account various sociodemographic factors, participants in recreational activities and volunteering were 15% and 17% more likely, respectively, to maintain excellent health throughout the study.
The study endorses the practice of 'social prescribing', a non-pharmacological intervention integrating primary care with community services.
The study's concept of successful aging is more inclusive than earlier research, acknowledging chronic illness, disabling chronic pain, and older adults' subjective experiences of their health and aging process.
The research by University of Toronto was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, utilizing data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA).