If spending time with the grandchildren is part of your holiday plan, then give yourself a high-five for longevity. According to the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, the benefits of hugs, cuddles and giggles with grandchildren go further than just putting a smile on your face. A study completed in December 2016 involving 500 seniors age 70 and older who spent time with and occasionally cared for a grandchild found a 37 percent reduction in the risk of dying over the next 10 years, compared to those who did not spend time with grandchildren.
The study reaffirms what doctors and scientists keep telling us—that social interaction, particularly for older adults, is a benefit to physical and mental health. Being around kids (all that energy!) typically gets you off the couch and moving around, which boosts your cardiovascular system and brain function. Being around happy, joyful (if occasionally cranky) kids is a big mood enhancer, too, and the body’s immune function benefits from all those feel-good endorphins.
Kids are great germ carriers, though, so be sure everyone, young and old, washes hands, and has gotten a flu shot. Then enjoy your family time to its fullest, knowing that by doing so you may well just live longer and have more holidays to celebrate with those you love.