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The Surprising Benefits of Friendship

Pals and buddies help you have a good time. Close friends will be there when you need support. These are the well-known benefits of friendship. But did you know that having friends can also extend your life? And friendships may even boost your immune system! Check out these surprising benefits of friendship:

Friendship May Prevent Heart Attacks

A study conducted on middle-aged men found, surprisingly,  that having a life partner didn’t lower their chances of having a heart attack – but having friends did! You could say that friends not only touch your heart with their thoughtfulness, but they also help your actual physical heart keep on ticking.

The researchers found that if you don’t have social support, that’s as bad for your heart as smoking. So reach out to a friend today. Your cardiologist will thank you!

Friendship Makes Things Seem Easier

In another study, researchers stood at the base of a steep hill on a college campus. They stopped students who were walking by and asked them to participate in the study. Many students agreed, perhaps welcoming the break in their routines.

The researchers gave the students backpacks filled with very heavy rocks. Then they asked them how steep they thought the hill was.

The students who were there by themselves thought the hill was steeper than the students who were there with friends. The students who had been friends the longest thought the climb would be the easiest.

The researchers, by the way, did not actually make the students climb the hill carrying the heavy rocks. That must have made them seem friendlier.

The moral of the story: If you have to climb a steep hill carrying a lot of rocks, bring a friend with you, and it won’t seem so bad. Or maybe you should ask yourself why you are carrying rocks up a hill. Seriously, friendship can make the hard times seem easier.

Friendship May Strengthen Your Immune System

Feeling lonely can be emotionally painful. Loneliness can also have surprising physical effects on your body. It can even have a strong negative effect on your immune system.

Cultivate your friendships and/or make new friends to keep loneliness at bay, and you may kick your immune system into a higher gear.

Friendship May Extend Your Life

Researchers found that friendship had a surprisingly important effect on people’s lifespans. People who had strong social relationships had a better chance of living longer. In fact, the effect of friendship on preventing an early death was as strong as quitting smoking and twice as strong as exercising.

That doesn’t mean that if you have good friends, you can smoke and forget about exercising. All of these are important. Consider going for a walk or a run with a friend and cover all your bases at once. Just don’t carry a backpack full of rocks.

Take Care of Your Friendships

Friendships need time and attention to thrive. Time is often in short supply in our busy lives. To get all the benefits of friendship, make it a priority. You will reap the rewards many times over.