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Log on to Facebook for better health, experts say

April 18, 2013

Social media has become a part of everyday life for people of all ages, and new research suggests that logging on to the popular websites may actually be part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Scientists from the University of Luxembourg discovered that older adults who use Facebook, Twitter, discussion boards and other social tools are more likely to be healthy, according to findings published in the journal Gerontology.

The study, led by Dr. Anja Leist, is based on an extensive analysis of previously conducted trials. Researchers found that the greatest benefits from social media were derived from the fact that it offers an easy opportunity to connect with other seniors and doctors who can provide healthy aging tips. For instance, you can join discussion boards about the best ways to stay physically active or reach out to other seniors about the best doctors in your particular area. Not only that, but Facebook and other similar websites can help keep you connected to friends and family who may live far away.

"There are many online forums where people in difficult life situations, such as informal caregivers of a spouse with dementia or individuals with depression, can exchange thoughts as well as receive and provide social support," Leist said. "Other positive consequences are that lonely older adults can overcome loneliness through contact to family and friends and other users with similar interests."

The idea that Facebook, Twitter and other websites can offer health benefits has gained considerable traction in recent years, so it's no surprise that retirement communities around the country have begun providing classes to those interested in learning the ins and outs of social media use, The Atlantic reports.