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Live Longer Connected

A survey of centenarians -- people who are 100 years old -- found they credited strong social connections, not genetics, with their longevity.

The survey by Evercare, which, I think, is a service that coordinates health care for the elderly, found that in addition to staying in touch with people in their communities, some of these long-living folks also use the internet to connect.

Centenarians say staying close to friends and family is most important to healthy aging (90 percent). Keeping the mind active (90 percent) and laughing and having a sense of humor (88 percent) also ranked high for living longer.

When we engage with others, even via electronic means, the oxytocin response tunes the immune system, promoting relaxation and healing while lowering blood pressure and reducing the stress response. Sociologists and healthcare providers have long known that married people -- especially married men -- live longer and healthier. But you don't need to be married, you just need to have people you can connect with regularly.