Research Says Having a ‘Local’ is Good for Your Health

Earlier this week, we reminded you that most of your “friends” on Facebook are probably not your friends in real life.

Sure, a lot of them are reliable in tossing you a “like” on your vacation photos or carefully constructed status update. And that’s great – but there comes a point where you crave the comfort that comes with good, old-fashioned real-life interactions.

In a recent conversation with a fellow millennial, we shared a mutual sentiment that the concept of your “local” neighbourhood watering hole has become somewhat obsolete – in Toronto, anyway. And we both found that a little disappointing from a community-building perspective.

Most millennials (admittedly, myself included) are so preoccupied with checking out the latest and greatest “see and be seen” spots that they’ll often travel across town to do so, neglecting their local in the process.

Now, a new study from Oxford University and Campaign for Real Ale has found that living closer to a pub can make you “significantly” happier. In studying a cross section of pubs in Oxfordshire, researchers found that those who were regulars at their local watering hole had more friends, better life satisfaction, and – surprisingly – were more likely to drink in moderation.

According to the same professor who brought us the Facebook study, Robin Dunbar, the “friendship community” facilitated by regular visits to your local pub can positively influence your health and wellbeing. This, of course, is opposed to interactions in the digital world.

“Making and maintaining friendships […] is something that has to be done face-to-face. The digital world is simply no substitute. Given the increasing tendency for our social life to be online rather than face to face, having relaxed accessible venues where people can meet old friends and make new ones becomes ever more necessary,” explained Dunbar. The study also stated the obvious: most people’s social skills improve after having a drink.

Small neighbourhood pubs allow fellow patrons to bond with fellow drinking companions and meet new people in a relaxed, judgment-free environment. Aside from the cheap beer and comforting grub (sometimes you just need a fully loaded plate of nachos), your favourite bartender can also be the best therapist (that last part is my own opinion, not part of the findings).

Plus, you don’t have to get done up if you don’t feel like it.

In addition to the comforting vibes, you’ll not only save money on the affordable booze and pub grub (as opposed to the latest hotspot), but the transportation costs as well. You’ll also get to actually know your neighbours and support a local business. Not to mention, you never know what connections are waiting to be made in your own backyard.

Maybe it’s time to find your spot where “everybody knows your name…”