To Your Health: Want to live longer? That’s what friends are for

There are lots of healthy choices that can be pretty tough. But here’s one we know you’ll have no trouble with: Build a strong circle of friends and keep it.

Friends can boost your mood, support you through a tough time, even influence your eating and exercise habits in healthful ways.

And here’s something you probably didn’t know: They can extend your life.

Color Run 31Yep, studies find that people with strong networks of friends live longer – years longer – compared to those with fewer friends.

In some cases, your network of friends can have a bigger impact on your overall health than your activity levels.

So what’s going on here?

For one, friends can help you manage stress – and stress, as we all know, is a killer. Friends not only offer support and encouragement, they give us peace of mind. If we encounter a stressful event, we know we won’t have to handle it alone.

Friends also deter bad behaviors, and point us toward healthier ones. And friends can give us a sense of purpose and meaning.

How many friends do you need to see a positive impact on health? The research here is a little murky, but it appears that even one strong friendship makes a difference.

So this weekend, neglect your house work and go out with friends. It’s the healthy thing to do, after all.

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