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