Study: Being a 'regular' is good for your health

Here's something to tell your bar patrons: They're more likely to live healthier and happier lives if they're regulars at your establishment.

A group of psychologists and anthropologists joined forces to pen the study Friends on Tap: The Role of Pubs at the Heart of the Community. In it, they look at the physical and psychological benefits of playing the role of Norm at local and "community-oriented" bars. They found that regular pub patrons are more likely to have close friends who they can "call for support" and are happier and more trusting than those who don't regularly visit their local watering hole. Pub regulars also feel "more engaged with their wider community."

The TL;DR version: The more people you know and the more often you see them, the happier you'll feel and the healthier you'll be.

Yeah, science!
“Friendship and community are probably the two most important factors influencing our health and wellbeing. Making and maintaining friendships, however, 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.”
— Professor Robin Dunbar, Oxford University

The study was conducted by Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology and commissioned by CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), a UK-based group with the goal of promoting "real ale and pubs."

Other findings by Dunbar and his team:

  • Drinking improves social skills, but moderation is key. Drinking alcohol can improve one's wellbeing and some social skills (though not all), but those same abilities quickly decline as alcohol intake increases "beyond a moderate level."
  • Small bars means greater community. Good news for the indie-pubs. While people in "city center bars" may be part of larger social groups, smaller, community-oriented pub patrons are more engaged with one another and have longer conversations.
  • Smaller bars leads to moderate drinking levels. Combining the first two points, the study concludes larger establishments and "casual visitors" scored themselves as drinking more alcohol than regular bar patrons at their local venues.

Add this to "a glass of wine equals an hour at the gym" and your bar or restaurant is the healthiest place for people to visit. Take that, Planet Fitness!

So next time one of your regulars walks in and makes a joke about visiting too often, be sure to tell them that he's just looking out for his health by stopping by for a quick pint.