While shopping in Malibu, CA I’ve seen Dick Van Dyke singing in the grocery store. Apparently, a lot of other people have as well. He’s been quoted as saying that he exercises but he loves ice cream. And that’s exactly where I saw him: in the frozen food aisle. Additionally, he is active in the community and a longtime sponsor of the community theater in Malibu. What keeps this vivacious 95 year old going? It could be his outlook on life, close friendships, and ties to the community.
In a large study of 7,000 men and women appearing in the Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that those who were disconnected from others were three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than those with strong friendships. Researchers concluded that people with close social ties and unhealthy lifestyles tended to live longer than those with poor social ties but healthier living habits. The people who lived the longest were people who had both healthy lifestyles and close social ties.
According to Harvard Health, scientists are investigating the biological and behavioral factors that account for the health benefits of connecting with others. For example, they’ve found that it helps relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system. Another line of research suggests that caring behaviors trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.
The Kennedy Center honored Dick Van Dyke in January 2021. Even though they waited a long time to honor him, Mr. Van Dyke was happy to accept the honor at 95.