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How Friendships Improve Health

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How Friendships Improve Health

Move over omega 3’s and colorful berries!  There’s something else on the menu for good health and longevity…friendship.

In numerous studies, researchers are finding that people who have strong friendships age better, recover from illness quicker, have stronger immunity, and live longer.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of friendship include stress reduction, improving your self-image, decreasing your risk of serious mental illness, and the presence of a support system during life’s joys and difficult transitions.

A 2008 Harvard Study concluded that having a robust social life delays memory loss among elderly Americans.  A 10-year Australian study found that older adults who had strong social networks lived longer than those who did not have them.

A team of Brigham Young University researchers announced in 2010 their conclusions after reviewing 148 studies examining the effects of social relationships on health.  Over 308,000 people were represented in these studies.  Their bottom line: it is more harmful to have low levels of social interaction than it is not to exercise, and it is twice as harmful as obesity.

The power seems to lie in friendships, moreso than in having a spouse or family.  According to Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, “Friendship has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships.”

Next: 5 ways to build friendships

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Read more: Alzheimer's, Conditions, Friendship, General Health, Health, Love, Mental Wellness, Relationships, Sex, Women's Health, , , , , , , , , , ,

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Terri Hall

Terri Hall lives in the Hudson Valley with her family. In addition to writing, Terri works with public television and radio stations/networks in the area of new media, and leads workshops on authentic and empowered living.


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11:08AM PDT on Sep 23, 2013

Great advice, liked how the writer made it clear that every person doesn't have to be your bff, just a great positive connection in some way. If you have trouble finding decent people around for some reason, then try being a really good friend to yourself. At least you'll have the pleasure of your own company in your own skin.

4:33PM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

thank you

4:14PM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

I cant make friends. Im seriously depressed. I say hi to people when I go on walks, I go to the library and hope someone might talk to me. No one in college talks to me and Im a perfectly fine looking gal. Every friend I expected to have in life at this moment is missing. I dont know what to do.

4:14AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

thanks, but I do count my husband as a friend

5:06PM PST on Mar 6, 2011


7:05PM PDT on Oct 2, 2010

I work alone at home so I don't have the job interaction. I come from a very dysfunctional family that always seems to bring me down. I am so thankful for my friends ~ they are life-saving!

7:00PM PDT on Oct 1, 2010

True friends are hard to find. When you find them hold on. They are more precious than diamonds.
When you're up its easy to have friends everyone likes to be around a winner. It's when things get tough that you really find out who your friends are.

3:40AM PDT on Sep 29, 2010

Stop eating meat for awhile and you'll see a different you...

2:28PM PDT on Sep 28, 2010

I have a lot of friendships that are up to four decades old and I'm only 50. Long standing friendships are wonderful but so too are friends you've just met

7:50AM PDT on Sep 28, 2010

It is absolutely true that good, strong friendships do make a person's life better and do help improve a person's health. The opposite is also true. Therefore, it is a good idea to make certain that ones friends are healthy people, themselves.

I developed a friendship with someone whose life circumstances are horrible. This person has been abused on a continual basis by her neighbor and her landlord. She is unemployed and often without food, money, transportation, a telephone, and other services a human being needs to live. I have sent her money and made offers repeatedly, over many months, to pay first and last month's rent, plus moving expenses for her, so she can get out of her untenable situation and move to a different place, which would be close to jobs and transportation. I have even offered to give her my deceased father's car. She has refused and ignored every single offer of assistance I made. Trying to save her has caused so much stress to me, that it has made me ill.

Sometimes, you have to recognize when a friendship is toxic and when it is actually harmful. You cannot save a person from herself. Trying to do so will only harm you, but it will never improve the position of the other person. Some people would prefer to be a victim. It is very sad, but, for your own health's sake, if you come across a person like that, you just have to bless them, but walk away.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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