Blog - Friendship, Health and Healing

By Matthew Manning: 19 Dec 2015

Friends play a vital role in our healthy development and well-being in every stage of our life. But did you know that chatting with your best friend or laughing uncontrollably with your mates is actually beneficial to your health? Here are six reasons why your friends are 100% good for you!

  1. Live longer. Positive friendships have an impact on our health and can lead to longevity. A 10-year Australian study found people with a solid group of friends were 22% more likely to live longer than those who had fewer friends to count on. Keep your friends close and make the time to reach out and get together.
  2. Stay in shape. If you're looking to keep fit, then having a close friend can help you achieve it. A study of 1,000 women found that those who work out with friends train longer, burn more calories and go to the gym more often. Coordinate your exercise or fitness plan with your friends.
  3. Prepare for challenges ahead. In a University of Virginia study, students were taken to the bottom of a steep hill with a weighted backpack . Each person was asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some students stood alone and others were next to friends. Those who were in the company of friends gave lower estimates of the incline, and the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared. With friends at your side, things don't seem so tough!
  4. Press the "relax" button. In many studies, it has been found that loneliness increases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that can lead to high blood pressure and low immune function. When those lonely moments strike, make sure to contact a friend. Surround yourself with people who care about you in order to lower your stress levels and start relaxing.
  5. In sickness and in health. When illness strikes, it's even more imperative to have a strong support system. A study of over 2,000 breast cancer patients in China found that strong friendships and a high quality of life were the most important predictors of both cancer recurrence and survival. Being ill is difficult enough to start with; make sure to let friends and close ones in during those trying times. If you have a friend who is sick, go that extra mile for them.
  6. Don't worry, be happy. Happiness is something that most people aspire to, and close social ties have a lot to do with it. A study which followed 5,000 individuals over a period of 20 years found that when one person becomes happy, their friends also reap the joyful benefits. In fact, one person's happiness triggers a chain reaction of happy - up to three degrees of social connection. When you are having a great day or are in a wonderful mood, be sure to share with your friends and spread happiness all around!