How having good friends can extend your life
Mar 23, 2012, 6 a.m.
Having a tight circle of friends is nice at any age. Such contact gives you people to confine in, to share life's victories and set-backs with and to socialize with. As we age, healthy friendships are increasingly important. They can even extend our life. One recent study concluded that close, mutually-satisfying friendships can reduce a person's chance of dying from any cause by up to 50 percent. That's equivalent to the effect of stopping smoking. Below are just a few ways good friends help us life happier and healthier lives:
- Staving off depression. Those with even a few close friends are much less likely to suffer from depression, an increasing problem among older Americans. Although the exact reasons are unclear, having someone to confide in and the share life's ups and downs with is a good remedy to loneliness, a key factor in depression.
- Supports immune system. According to one study cited by ABC News , friendship is "miracle grow" for your immune system. Having close friendship can reduce your chance of contracting flu and colds as well as more serious illnesses.
- Minimizes risks of developing addictive behaviors. Loneliness is a key, contributing factor to alcohol and substance abuse, particularly in older Americans. Having close friendships can reduce the risks of addictive behavior.
As the childhood saying goes, "Make new friends and cherish the old." Never has this advice been more valuable. It is increasingly clear that friendship is essential to a long and happy life.
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