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Join a Group: It May Save Your Life!

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Join a Group: It May Save Your Life!

By Wanda Urbanska, Experience Life

Too busy to get involved with the PTA, the Rotary Club or your local gardeners’ group? Consider this: If you’re not a member of a single social, civic, religious or fraternal organization, and you join one, your chance of dying in the next 12 months drops by half, according to Lewis M. Feldstein, MA, coauthor of Better Together: Restoring the American Community (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

“If you join another organization that year,” Feldstein says, “your chances of dying drop another 25 percent.” In other words, engaging with others is as vital to your health as eating well, exercising regularly and quitting smoking.

Protective Effects

Experts have dubbed the health benefits of close community ties “The Roseto Effect,” based on a landmark study that tracked a group of Italian immigrants who settled in Roseto, Penn. People who lived in Roseto were noticeably healthier and lived longer than their peers in neighboring Bangor, despite sharing such risk factors as fatty diets, an addiction to cigarettes and minimal exercise routines. What was their secret?

Residents of Roseto lived in a tight-knit, noncompetitive community consisting of three-generation households in which everyone attended the same church services and social clubs (and even followed the same weekly dinner plans).

The health benefits weren’t genetic. As subsequent generations left Roseto and assimilated into mainstream culture, their health advantages vanished.

Next: More on the Roseto experience and benefits of community

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Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


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10:15AM PDT on Jun 2, 2015

Thanks Megan.

4:44PM PDT on Aug 3, 2014

Thanks for Sharing :)

5:05AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

thank you for sharing

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

This is an excellent way of expanding friendships and creating a sense of belonging especially for those who have been isolated due to illness or other reasons. Some people become isolated and this is one way of expanding one's horizons.

1:33PM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Thanks Megan.

12:06PM PDT on Jul 21, 2011

Care2 and volunteering keep me motivated and my mind active!

11:50PM PST on Jan 27, 2011

I think organizations are not the only way to benefit from group experience; tho I felt good when I was able to volunteer shelving books at the library. But a few friends and I meet regularly for mutual support and also pick something in the local or larger community to support as well; and that helps us all help ourselves as well as others.

1:12PM PST on Nov 13, 2010

When you have friends who also become mentors, guides,
informed counselors in your line of work, or someone to
giggle with truly enhances your life. I'm grateful for the
friends I've made through following my interests and
active volunteerism. They do add a special cachet to my life.

6:33PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

I think some people don't like groups as much and that should be fine but I felt that way a few yrs ago but found out I had low grade depression. I decided to start doing what I loved even if I went alone and things have started to change and I feel a new energy in my life. Maybe those that prefer time alone could do a group (of an activity they love) activity once a month. You don't have to become bff with everyone all at once. Baby steps work fine.

4:27PM PDT on Sep 4, 2010

Humans are social animals and need group interaction.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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