Good Friends and Good Health – Four Health Benefits of Friendship

September 7, 2017

Celebrate National Women’s Friendship Day in good health

It’s fairly obvious that our mental and emotional state benefits from good friendships. Who doesn’t feel at their best when surrounded by their tribe––I mean, we CHOSE each other! But did you know that your besties are also a key component for physical health?

On National Women’s Friendship Day, we figured we’d celebrate one of the best gifts we can give our friends––good health.

Friend Fact #1: Friendship is the Fountain of Youth

That’s right. Women with a close group of friends just straight up live longer. The results of a recent study show that people with strong social relationships increased their odds of survival over a certain time period by 50 percent! That’s on par with quitting smoking, and nearly twice as beneficial as physical activity in terms of decreasing your odds of dying early. So wait, if we work out with our friends while not smoking does that mean we get to live forever? Hmmmmm….

Friend Fact #2: Friendship puts you into beast mode

Want to be a little bit of a bad*ass? Science says don’t be a lone wolf. A new study is suggesting that as your friend network grows, so does your pain tolerance. Researchers examined 101 adults between the ages of 18 and 34. Each participant was given a questionnaire about how often he or she kept in touch with his or her friends. After completing the quiz, the participant was then asked to squat with his or her back against the wall. The researchers found that the participants with larger circles of friends were able to maintain the painful position longer than those with fewer friends.

Friend Fact #3: We help each other survive breast cancer

In one of the largest studies of its kind to date, we learn that women with invasive breast cancer are significantly more likely to not only survive but avoid recurrence of the disease if they have a strong network of friends and family.

“It is well established that women who have more social ties generally, including those with breast cancer, have a lower risk of death overall,” said Candyce H. Kroenke, ScD, MPH, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and lead author of the study. Read more about this fascinating study here.

Friend Fact #4: Friends influence your healthy weight

For better or for worse, our friends have a huge influence on our physical health and weight. The Framingham Heart Study discovered that the social effect of putting on extra weight appeared to be quite powerful. When a Framingham resident became obese, his or her friends were 57 percent more likely to become obese, too. But it doesn’t stop there! In fact, it appeared to skip links. A Framingham resident was roughly 20 percent more likely to become obese if the friend of a friend became obese — even if the connecting friend didn’t put on a single pound. Indeed, a person’s risk of obesity went up about 10 percent even if a friend of a friend of a friend gained weight. In short, we’re all connected and if we can make each other unhealthy, we can inspire good health, too.

One of the best thing you can do for your own health? Surround yourself with a community of awesome women who take care of themselves, practice self love, and inspire you to be at your best. Workout buddies, healthy recipe enthusiasts, creative thinkers, adventure seekers––if you’re already one of these people, share the wealth, and if you strive to be, the ticket might be as simple as making a few new friends.

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