Benefits of Friendship

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We all know the benefits of a healthy diet, daily exercise, and good hygiene on our health. We have been told to avoid smoking, cover up against the harmful rays of the sun, and get plenty of sleep. These are great tips in for prolonging our lives and enjoying old age. Yet one perhaps equally important ingredient for longevity and healthy living is often overlooked. And that is the benefit of fulfilling and long-lasting relationships. Read on to explore the benefits of friendship and meaningful relationships on health and a long life.

  1. Social Connections and Good Health
  2. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has been studying a group of men for the past 80 years taking into account their medical information, home and work lives, mental status, and emotional well-being. Thus far, their research indicates that individuals who are emotionally and socially connected to loved ones live longer, more satisfying lives. Individuals who are unable to maintain a connection with loved ones tend to report less fulfillment and live shorter lives. Good relationships in loving, supportive atmospheres appear to not only lead to longer lives, but also protect brain health and result in sharper, more agile minds.

  3. A Happy Marriage Can Mean a Longer Life
  4. A study in the Health Psychology journal indicates that couples in happy marriages have an increased life span. This study found that couples who were involved in supportive, satisfying marriage relationships were significantly less at risk of dying. Happily married couples can encourage each other to eat right, exercise, and take care of their health. Having a supportive spouse as a sounding board when dealing with stress and aggravations can be another potential health benefit. Additionally, sharing burdens and household decisions can be another stress-relieving effect of maintaining a healthy marriage.

  5. Loneliness as a Risk Factor for Heart Disease
  6. Smoking, obesity, and poor diets are known causes for heart disease. However, studies suggest that loneliness and social isolation may be risk factors for heart disease as well. It is becoming clear that good health depends on much more than just providing for the body’s physical needs. The lifelong human need for companionship, affirmation, and love plays a role in physical health as well as mental well-being. To protect the strong functioning of the heart muscle within your chest cavity, you may wish to nurture your metaphorical heart with opportunities to make meaningful connections with family, neighbors, and those with shared interests.

  7. Social Support and Improved Immune Function
  8. Your heart is not the only body system that benefits from healthy social relationships. A study in Research in Nursing & Health monitored the effects that a good social support system can have on immune reactions in times of stress. This study utilized blood samples and questionnaires from juveniles who were either healthy, mildly asthmatic, or severely asthmatic. Researchers obtained samples during midterm and final exam periods. While a strong social support system did not directly affect immune response, it did protect against decreased immunity in times of stress.

  9. Close Relationships and Brain Health
  10. A dynamic, fulfilling social life can improve brain health and maintain mental sharpness according to AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health. Interaction with other people fosters closeness, improves mental well-being, and imparts necessary feelings of usefulness, purpose, and meaning in life. Relationships that contribute to good brain health include love relationships, intergenerational family relationships, friendships that center around shared activities, and relationships with pets.

  11. Social Relationships and Diabetes
  12. One study of the link between social relationships and blood glucose control in older Japanese found that individuals with strong social ties had better glycemic control. This study found that people who met with friends or participated in clubs, groups, or sports activities from one to four times each month had better control of their blood sugar levels. Engaging in social activities more frequently than this may decrease the positive effect on glycemic control. Since social gatherings often involve food and drink, the positive effects of socializing on blood sugar control may decrease due to extra consumption of calories or alcohol.

    Maintaining Close Relationships with the Elderly

    In the later years, it is important for individuals to continue to feel connected with others. One study by the University of California, San Francisco found that loneliness in the elderly not only causes mental suffering, but also increases the risk of death. Elderly individuals may benefit from interaction with their peers in assisted living facilities or by visits to community centers. Including elderly relatives in regular family dinners can provide wonderful benefits not only to the elderly, but also to younger family members who can learn from and bond with their elders.

    How to Maintain Healthy Relationships

    In our fast-paced world, it can sometimes seem overwhelming to invest in relationships on top of daily tasks. One tip for maintaining healthy relationships includes making time to schedule lunch with a friend. Call or text a pal and get a lunch date on the calendar to provide encouragement, support, and laughter along with a meal. Give long-distance friends and relatives a weekly phone call or video chat to keep up with news and bolster your relationships. Invite a buddy to go on a walk or join you at the gym to strengthen your friendship as well as your muscles.

    Tips for Making New Social Connections

    If you’ve let relationships fall by the wayside, take steps to make new connections and let new relationships into your life. The key to forging new friendships is to get involved with something you enjoy. This increases your chances of meeting like-minded individuals. Take that pottery class you have always wanted to try. Join a cycling club to meet other health-conscious individuals and explore new terrain. Find a book club and enjoy bonding with new friends over lovable book characters and suspenseful plot twists. Or join a wine and cheese club to tantalize your palate and meet other wine connoisseurs.

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Benefits of Friendship. (2020, May 14). Retrieved July 20, 2024 , from

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