Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can friends make you healthy?

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Friendships-they start with our childhood and continue even after we have hit the buckets. They give you moments of joy, sorrow, laughter and more importantly moments of fun. Friendships keep us healthy, happier and less stressed. You stand to gain a lot from having good friends, perhaps more than you might have thought.

Can Friends Make You Healthy?

Good friends are good for your physical, mental, and emotional wellness. In fact, researchers are now starting to pay attention to the importance of friendship and social networks in overall health. A study conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University followed nearly 1,500 older people for 10 years. It found that those who had a large network of friends outlived those with the fewest possible moves friends by 22 percent. Other studies have shown people with fewer friends tend to die sooner after having a heart attack than people with a strong social network. So what are the connecting links? Is it true that your good friends can get you health benefits as well?

The answer is a big YES! Here are a few health benefits of having good friends:

Long life: As the study mentioned above concludes: Having a strong social network does mean that you can live longer. Weirdly, having a close relationship with relatives hardly makes a difference. It is the friendship that matters.Enjoy reduced stress levels: Why do you call your friend before your examinations? That is because friends can help you reduce your stress levels-be it work or relationship stress-by just having a hearty conversation. A cup of coffee and a random topic to talk about is all you need to get those stress release hormones going.Good habits: If you have friends that know the importance of good health, they will endow the same gift on you as well. Friends are also a brilliant way to keep you in check of your bad eating habits; after all you don't want to be embarrassed in front of your friends. Friends can help you improve your health by encouraging you to change unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as lack of exercise. However, be alert to the flipside of this. Friends also reinforce one another's bad habits.Gym buddies: We have constantly stressed on the fact that you need to have a gym partner to get the maximum out of your effort. To be honest, at the gym is a very dull place to be in. Only a companion can make it ' happening ' for you. There is also a spirit of healthy competition when you are working out with your mate.Strong support: When you are going through some serious surgery or even cancer treatment, the most important thing is support. If you have close friends to walk you through those depressing days, your chances of survival increase manifold. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and conducted jointly by the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley/Harvard Medical School found that women diagnosed with breast cancer were more likely to survive if they had close friends.Share and care: Friends can help you save on your healthy habits. You can subscribe to a health magazine and share the cost with your buddy. You can share exercise equipments and even tips on how to perform an exercise correctly so that you don't hurt yourself. Friends also keep each other informed of the latest health news or local events like tainted grocery items or Vaccination clinics in your community.Walk away from depression: The number one treatment for depression is Friendship. It works like a charm when fighting depression. The loneliness is only going to make things tough for you. A 2002 study conducted at Johns Hopkins University found that seniors with an active social life and friends are less likely to suffer depression.

People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to. They feel more relaxed and at peace, which is related to better health. So get out of your computer and make some real friends!

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