Spending quality time with friends and family is nice, but it turns out that time well spent also can other benefits. Some of these benefits include having an enjoyable life, feeling less grief, and friends who motivate and inspire. Maintaining positive friendships should be there with sticking to health and fitness goals because it’s just as crucial to one’s health. For people who are looking to improve their health, in addition to finding ways to lose weight and get healthy (which we cover in the Body Reboot book), friendships can certainly help too.
It’s pretty cool to think that friends can extend your life, but according to Live Science, which discusses a review from 2010, it’s true! It makes sense if you think about it. A live without relationships is a pretty lonely one, which is why it’s important to find a few friends that get you and can help you work through life’s ups and downs.
Friends may extend your life
People who have strong social relationships are less likely to die prematurely than people who are isolated. In fact, according to a 2010 review of research, the effect of social ties on life span is twice as strong as that of exercising, and equivalent to that of quitting smoking.
In the review, researchers examined 148 previous studies on social links and mortality, which together included more than 300,000 participants. These studies found that measures of the strength of people's social relationships, from their number of friends to their integration into the community, were all linked to decreased mortality.
Researchers think that friendships and health are linked through the body's processing of stress, Yang said. In the short term, stress is a good thing. If you're being chased by a lion, you want your body to respond with heightened alertness, a pounding heart and a flood of get-up-and-go hormones like norepinephrine. Likewise, if you've got a virus, you want your immune system to kick into gear and attack the intruder with specialized cells and inflammation.
But the chronic stress that can come with isolation can switch on these processes for long periods of time, causing physical wear and tear on the body, Yang said.
Everyday Health states something powerful: that friendships make you happy and that happiness is contagious. Happiness affects your health whether you like to think that’s the case or not. If you haven’t been feeling like yourself lately pick yourself back up by spending time with some happy friends! It could do you a world of good!
Socially engaged adults age more successfully. According to surveys of women over age 60, those who are socially engaged and visit with friends and family throughout the week are happier as they age.
Friends can help you achieve your weight and fitness goals. Encouragement and just sharing goes a long way to boosting your willpower.
Happiness is catching. If you have a friend you consider to be happy, you are more likely to be happy and you are able to spread that happiness to the people around you. A study of 4,739 adults who participated in the Framingham Heart Study between 1983 and 2003 showed that people tend to cluster into happy or unhappy groups, and happiness appears to spread not just to those immediately inside the social group, but to their contacts as well. Having happy friends who live less than a mile away was an especially powerful predictor of happiness.
If you struggle with depression and high blood pressure, maybe you should lean more on your friends. According to Mayo Clinic, friends can help you get through depression and improve your blood pressure. Sometimes making the right friends proves difficult, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Make some effort to find and keep positive friendships throughout your lifetime.
Friends also play a significant role in promoting your overall health. Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
Why is it sometimes hard to make friends or maintain friendships?
Many adults find it hard to develop new friendships or keep up existing friendships. Friendships may take a back seat to other priorities, such as work or caring for children or aging parents. You and your friends may have grown apart due to changes in your lives or interests. Or maybe you've moved to a new community and haven't yet found a way to meet people.
Developing and maintaining good friendships takes effort. The enjoyment and comfort friendship can provide, however, makes the investment worthwhile.
What's a healthy number of friends?
Quality counts more than quantity. While it's good to cultivate a diverse network of friends and acquaintances, you also want to nurture a few truly close friends who will be there for you through thick and thin.
Not only do friends help you battle depression and improve your health in other ways, but Psychology Today also says that friends help you maintain and develop social skills. Keep up with your friends, and you may even live a longer life! Sounds good to us!
Friends help you develop social skills
I am a true introvert. I love people, but only in small doses. When someone invites me to a party or to a wedding, I cringe on the inside because I know I will have to be around a lot of people, which gives me anxiety. However, my friends definitely push me out of my comfort zone and always get me into social gatherings. From childhood, friends are there to invite you to birthday parties, have play dates and as we get older we grab drinks and dinners with our cherished friends to catch up on the week or the past month. Life is so much better socializing with friends and getting out to experience new places and meet new people.
Friends can improve our health and longevity
Studies have shown that older people with friends are more likely to live a healthier happier life than those who do not have many close friends. Older people without close friends are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression than their counterparts. Although family members are usually the caretakers to the elderly, they often do so out of obligation whereas lifelong friends provide endless joy with no strings attached.
Go on, get out there and rekindle old friendships, strengthen weakened friendships and develop new friendships. We are living on borrowed time and we will not be remembered for what we did in life but rather whom we touched throughout our journey in life.
If you’re struggling with finding the willpower to start a new diet and implement healthy changes in your life, friends may help. Washington Post outlines how plenty of studies have revealed that positive relationships lead to many positive health benefits from better hormone function to lower levers of inflammation. Just check out their findings below:
Early on, it seemed possible that healthier people might simply make more friends. But a growing body of research suggests instead that good relationships actually lead to better health. One clue comes from studies that begin with a large group of healthy people and follow them for decades. Experimental work on animals has also linked isolation with earlier death.
And plenty of studies have revealed biological theories that may explain what makes us healthier when we feel supported: lower blood pressure, better hormone function, stronger immune systems and possibly lower levels of inflammation.
Meanwhile, friends can influence health-related behaviors through peer pressure that values healthy eating, exercise taking prescriptions and going to doctor’s appointments, Holt-Lundstad adds. True friendships can also give us a sense of purpose, making us more motivated to take care of ourselves.
But even as evidence piles up to support the value of bonding, the nature of friendship seems to be changing, says Glenn Sparks, a communications professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., who studies how media affect people. One reason is that people move more frequently than they used to. And for many people, a focus on display screens has replaced a focus on faces.
Friendships are pretty rad, and they can really help you follow through with your health goals! To get started on your health journey check out the Body Reboot book. If you want a free copy of the Body Reboot book help us cover the cost of shipping and get a free book! Check out this page and find out whether we still have any copies remaining.
Sources: Everyday Health, Mayo Clinic, Live Science, Psychology Today, Washington Post
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