If you like going out to the local bar, I have great news for you: Recent science suggests that there are health benefits to going to the pub regularly. Unsurprisingly, these health benefits have less to do with the consumption of alcohol itself, and more to do with the social atmosphere of being at a pub. How does this work? According to recent research from the University of Oxford, people who go to a local pub tend to be more socially engaged and more trusting of members of their community — and when you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. The study suggests that it might be the common faces you see, or the good times you spent there with friends in college, or so forth. When you have bonds and positive interactions with people in a setting, it makes sense that you will engage more socially and feel more trusting of your surroundings.
Of course, this data relies on more than just personal feelings to back their claims. In fact, researchers used findings from three separate studies to evaluate the data and compile their results: First, they utilized a questionnaire; then they used a national survey by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra); and lastly, they conducted an observational experiment looking at behavior in bars.
Each of these studies looked at the information in a slightly different way. For instance, in the first survey, the questionnaire asked 2,254 people over the age of 18 how often they visited bars, where they tended to drink and socialize, and whether had a particular spot they loved. Then researchers assessed their personal happiness and satisfaction with life.
In the second phase of the study, researchers found that people who drink alcohol in bars tend to have longer conversations with those around them. For city bars, people tended to check their phone often and leave conversations more than at local places.
And if you're thinking that high consumption of alcohol is the factor that leads to people being friendlier or not, this research might surprise you. In the third phase of the study, researchers found that blood alcohol level did not vary greatly between places. Instead of alcohol consumption, it seems that the greatest distinction in socializing at a bar comes by way of large, city bars having too many people to have a conversation and connect with everybody.
Of course, going down the pub isn't the only factor that affects your social life, and beyond that, your overall health. For example, many people feel that exercise has a positive impact on their social life, as well as their own overall health. It's also worth pointing out that plenty of people are into partying while sober.
While, of course, being in a bar might not be a healthy or safe place for many people who are actively seeking sobriety, there are tons of ways for people who don't drink to socialize, and likely reap the same benefits of community and closeness that others find in small pubs or local bars. Intimacy and trust, it seems, make more of an impact than the alcohol itself.