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The Wellnss JourneyLater today I will be interviewed (archived podcast here) on The Wellness Journey with Lynnis Woods-Mullins (@PraiseWorks), and we’ll be discussing the wellness aspect of social media. Wellness and social media? You bet. Social media is simply an extension of our already hard-wired nature to form social groups. The stronger (and for some people bigger) the groups, the more mental and physical advantages one has. There may even be a connection to longevity. Dang! Yes, being social is a part of the human evolution.

Our strongest advantage as a species is our ability to organize and manage large groups. We learned early on that we would be more powerful as one thousand than as simply one or a few, and so we took advantage of our capacity to cooperate and form civilizations. Now cooperation is not a purely human phenomenon, as many animal species do it, but in sheer capacity and sophistication, humans take the cake. We’ve expanded our social organization progressively from the beginning of existence, moving from hunter-gatherer tribes to the internet. Social media is just the next leg of that human social evolution.

Scientist have recently become increasingly interested in the social benefits to health. Several 2008-2009 studies showed promising results:

  • computer-cc36a4c4552c434fd40d98e79fa1dabeddea202a-s6-c10 (Copy)A 2008 study of stroke sufferers showed that being able to maintain valued group memberships played as important a role in positive recovery as an ability to overcome cognitive difficulties (e.g., problems with memory and language). After their stroke, people’s life satisfaction increased by 12% for every group membership that they were able to retain.
  • A 2009 study of residents entering a new care home. This showed that those who participated as a group in decisions related to the decoration of communal areas used those areas 57% more over the next month and were far happier as a result. In contrast, the use of space by residents in a control group declined by 60%. Moreover, these differences were still apparent three months later.
  • Another 2009 study looked at the impact of group interventions on the health and well-being of 73 people residing in care. After a period of six weeks the researchers found that people who took part in a reminiscence group showed a 12% increase in their memory performance, while those who received individual reminiscence or a control intervention showed no change.
  • Another 2009 study also studied nursing home residents and looked at the relationship between their sense of identity and well-being and the severity of their dementia. The study’s key finding was that a strong sense of identity associated with perceived membership of social groups, was a much better predictor of residents’ well-being than their level of dementia.

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Professor Jolanda Jetten from the University of Queensland, Australia commented on the findings from these studies: “New research shows just how important groups and social identity are to well-being. This is something that people often overlook in the rush to find medical solutions to problems associated with ageing, but it is time that these factors were taken much more seriously”.

And says Dr Catherine Haslam of the University of Exeter in the U.K.: “On the basis of what is now a very large body of research we would urge the medical community to recognize the key role that participation in group life can play in protecting our mental and physical health. It’s much cheaper than medication, with far fewer side effects, and is also much more enjoyable.”

Other studies that I have reported on in this blog also show the wellness benefits to social interactions. One study (2008) showed that people with large and strong social networks fared better following surgery—in healing time and extent. Another study (2008) showed that our sociability is actually a biological/neurological  trait, giving further evidence to its role and interdependence in human evolution.

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Another in 2009 which showed that repressed emotions can lead to greater risk of dying from a cardiac event, while a 2010 study showed that having strong social networks and interactions actually decreased death, in general, by 50%.

These studies simply confirm why using social media to remain connected, and thus in wellness, is the wisest practice people can adopt. Social media isn’t just digital narcissism, as some skeptics have defined it. It is real interactions, in real time, with real people (and if you really can’t tell the difference, then you really do need to get out more)—the perfect ingredients to rich social health and wellness. Keep Tweeting.


It’s been a while since I touched on the subject, but a new survey shows that people over 45 are having less SEX, and feeling less satisfied than they were ten years ago. They also happen to be more open to sex outside of marriage…hmmmm. The survey conducted by the AARP was completed by 1,670 Americans, 45 years and older. The results were compared to the same survey given in 1999 and 2004. Ten years ago 41% of respondents said non-marital sex was wrong, while only 22% said so on the new survey. Despite this openness among the middle aged and elderly, as a whole, their sexual activity has decreased by 10% since 2004. Further, five years ago 51% of this set responded that they were satisfied with their sex lives; however, only 43% said so on the new survey. As an interesting twist, unmarried people in relationships had sex more frequently and with more satisfaction than respondents who were married. According to the AARP’s sex and relationship expert, sociologist Pepper Schwartz, “Long-term married couples may get a little less interested. Older people in non-married relations work harder at it and enjoy it more.” As far as gender differences go, no surprises here: Men think about sex and engage it more often than women, and are about twice as likely as women (21 percent versus 11 percent) to admit to sexual activity outside their primary relationship. Men are more than five times as likely as women to say they think of sex at least once a day, and nearly three times as likely to say they engage in self-stimulation at least once a week. But unfortunately, only 12 percent of the survey’s sexually active single males reported using condoms. Tsk, tsk geezers–no glove, no love applies to you, too. The clap shows no age preference. So now you know. Finally, when asked what would improve their sex lives:

  • 20% of the women and 37% of the men said better health
  • 14% of the women and 26% of the men said better personal finances.

Ah, always the struggle between cash and capability. I find these survey results very interesting, and we can speculate in every kind of direction as to what is causing the trend. For instance, Ms. Schwartz, the sociologist evaluating the survey believes that the decrease in sexual activity is due to the recent economic downturn. And judging by the small number of responses to the affirmative (mentioned above), one could make that connection. But perhaps there is more. Maybe the growth of the internet, and the availability of sexually explicit material make it easier for people (men, mostly) to have their urges and desires satisfied. Since I know from the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy) that nothing is ever really missing, then sexual energy must also be conserved. Hmmm…people over 45 aren’t having sex with each other, then where are they having sex? Further, with privacy being factored into the equation, it would make sense that men (the gender increasingly more satisfied with their sex lives, compared to women according to Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago), more than ever before, can engage in sexual activity (albeit with their computers) without the possibility of embarrassment. And according to experts, men are not the only ones consuming online porn. Women also consume pornography, although they increasingly prefer written material. Increased use of online pornography could be at least one factor accounting for this survey’s findings…including the increased liberalism toward non-marital sex. Nothing wrong with that, just a transformation of where and how people are experiencing sex, if my thoughts are correct, that is. If I am right, then we can all rest securely knowing that we are operating within universal laws of conservation. Now that’s something to be satisfied with.

“Hey doc…I can’t get it up.” There now that wasn’t so bad was it? Say it again. Go on, say it. I promise you, your doctor will not laugh. Trust me, it’s a hell of a lot better than buying counterfeit Viagra online. Duh!A recent study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice reports that fake drug sales via the internet have skyrocketed over the last couple of years. In fact, seizures of fake drugs in Europe have quadrupled between 2005 and 2007; in the U.S. FDA investigations have increased eightfold from 2000 to 2006. The distribution of fake drugs is a booming business: one estimate has the sale of fake drugs hitting $75 billion in 2010.

The problem is not just that consumers are being ripped off, the fakes can actually be harmful to health. Two pregnant women died after they were given injections of a counterfeit iron preparation for anemia, and 25 children died in Bangladesh of kidney failure after taking paracetamol syrup that was contaminated with diethylene glycol, which is also used as antifreeze in cars.

However, the purchasing of fake drugs on the internet persists. Viagra seems to be the big one, but the consumers of such pharmaceuticals know not what they take. According to lead author of the study, Dr. Graham Jackson, a cardiologist at London Bridge Hospital in the UK, “The first danger is people don’t know what’s in it. Some are just talcum powder or brick dust, while some have a bit of Viagra or Cialis and some chemicals that have nothing to do with it.”

According to the study, one-third of men surveyed reported sidestepping a health-care professional when buying erectile dysfunction drugs. Why? What IS the big deal? Do you think your doctor finds this funny, pathetic, or what? C’mon guys, you would rather buy fake stepped-on garbage than risk a moment of humiliation I guarantee will pass the minute your doctor says okay? How much you want to bet he or she doesn’t even look up at you and just writes the scrip. There…I given you support. Now get off the damn net and get to your doctor’s office pronto. Just one humiliating second and it’ll be happy days are here again….

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