Friends Make You Healthier
Updated: Aug 30
Do you know the health benefits of friends?
Having a lot of friends can boost how long you live as much as 20 percent! A large friend list may add years to your life. One study found people with many chums lived 22% longer than those with only a few buddies. Good friends often encourage you to make healthy choices, like staying active. They can squash stress, too.
Loneliness is actually harmful to your health. Loneliness doesn't just feel bad, it's actually bad for you. Researchers at Brigham Young University found that having few friends is as dangerous for you as smoking more than a pack a day or drinking heavily. It can actually be worse for you than being obese or a couch potato.
The connection is not clear, but a strong social network can reduce your risk of stress and depression. When you're feeling good, you're more likely to take care of yourself.
Your pets are great companions, and are also great at reducing stress, but they can also help you make and keep human friends. One study says that people who own dogs, cats, or even other animals like rabbits and birds are more likely to know the folks in their neighborhood. They also get more advice and support from people they meet through their pets.
When it comes to friendships, the strength of the friendship as well as the number of friends/acquaintances you have is important. Close friends give you support. That lowers stress. Casual connections are important, too. Hang out with people like work friends, neighbors, and church members. It will keep you from getting lonely, and you'll be more active.
If your close friend becomes happy, your chances of feeling the same way go up by 25%! You know someone else's bad mood can rub off on you. But your friends' happiness is contagious too. One possible reason? Happy people might spread their good fortune, say researchers.
Loneliness can lead to memory loss. Being around people gets our minds working in many different ways. It challenges us, too. If you can, spend time with friends and family. But even support from people you're not close with, like a caregiver or neighbor, can help keep your brain sharp.
Friendship can ease stress, improve your immune system, and protect your heart. Friendship can keep you healthy in the short run, too. Having pals lowers stress, which has a positive impact on your heart, gut, and even your immune system. One study found that people who had a lot of social ties were four times less likely to get a cold virus than those with few social relationships.
Friends who live far away can still help your health as much as those who live close by. If your closest pals don't live all that close, don't stress. Research shows that distance doesn't harm friendship strength or benefits. A phone call to a friend can make you feel connected, and that can combat both loneliness and stress.
Need more friends? There are a whole bunch of us here that can fill that role! If you or a loved one is in pain, we'd love to help. Call us at FlexPlus Physical Therapy & Balance Centers at 508-650-0060 to schedule an initial evaluation for physical therapy in Natick and physical therapy in Southborough. Not sure if physical therapy is right for you? Ask us for a free consultation! At FlexPlus Physical Therapy, we're With You Every Step of the Way.