Going to the ballpark, visiting friends and playing bingo are simple diversions for many of us. But for the elderly, these social pastimes may play a critical role in preserving their physical and mental health.
In fact, a new study suggests that the less time older people spend engaged in social activity, the faster their motor function tends to decline. "Everybody in their 60s, 70s and 80s is walking more slowly than they did when they were 25," says Dr. Aron Buchman, a neurologist at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and lead author of the study, which was published in the June 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. "Our study shows the connection between social activity and motor function -- and opens up a whole new universe of how we might intervene."