A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that friendship is a crucial component to long term health.
Have you checked in with your friends lately? According to a report from Live Science, it could help you live longer. A recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reveals that staying close with your friends is good for your health in the long term.
Scientists have been studying the benefits of friendship for a while, and a large body of research has amassed touting the positives of keeping close friends. According to study author Yang Claire Yang, “One’s social life matters above and beyond what we already know about the ‘quick fixes’,” like dieting and exercise on long-term health.
The study suggests that friendship can help extend a person’s lifespan, and draws on previous research to elaborate. A 2010 study reveals that social ties have twice as strong an effect on life span than exercising, and about the same benefit as quitting smoking. A comprehensive literature review drawing on more than 300,000 participant found that the stronger people’s social connections were, the less likely they were to run into health problems later on down the line.
The UNC study compared biological information about people who said they lived in isolation with that of people who reported to have a high number of friends throughout their lives.
By comparing biomarkers like blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference, and the levels of an inflammation marker C-reactive protein, Yang and her team were able to show that people with weaker social ties were much more likely to run into health problems. They even found that a lack of friends increased the risk of hypertension by nearly 125 percent. By contrast, diabetes raises the risk of having high blood pressure by only 70 percent.
“We were able to see the change in biomarkers over time as a result of their earlier exposure to social connections, how many friends they have, and how often they’re talking to other people,” Yang said.
Friends can help you make good choices about diet and other habits, keep your mind sharp, and help you tough parts in your life. The recent study adds to a growing body of research that stresses the importance of keeping your friends close throughout your life.
A press release from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill describing the details of the study can be found here.