Mind & Body

Hanging With Your Friends Can Help You Live Longer

Ever wish you could cancel plans with friends in favor of staying in and watching TV? Been there. But as tempting as it is to stay in and binge-watch Legion, you will always be better served by hanging out with friends. In fact, one study found that low social integration is as bad for you as alcoholism, obesity and smoking nearly a pack a day.

Your Social Network

According to a 2010 study in PLOS Medicine, low social interaction is a definite risk factor for death, and can impact your longevity in startling ways. The researchers found that it can do as much harm as alcoholism or smoking, and even more harm than lack of exercise or obesity. They reached these conclusions by performing a meta-analysis of 148 studies. The data suggested that maintaining connections with your social network can improve your chances of survival by 50%, regardless of your age.

That's What Friends Are For

Why are friends such a strong indicator of a longer life? There are a few possibilities, but one popular theory is that friends encourage healthy behaviors. "Our relationships encourage us to eat healthy, get exercise, get more sleep, see a doctor,'' Julianne Holt-Lunstad, associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young, told The New York Times. In other words, your best pal might force you to see a doctor when you find a strange mole, or drag you to the gym for company at a spin class. So don't be surprised at your next check if your doctor prescribes exercise, vitamins, and a healthy dose of socializing. 

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Research indicates that people with large networks of friends live longer. 01:26

  2. One study showed that teenagers who befriend fellow students with good grades are more likely to increase their own grades. 04:34

  3. Friends tend to be genetically similar to each other, and the same seems to be true of lonely individuals. 07:08

Written by Curiosity Staff March 7, 2016

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