The More You Hang Out With Your BFF, the Healthier You’ll Be
Best friends make everything better — there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. True friends are sources of joy, laughter, and even a healthy dose of tough love. A recent study revealed that good friends also significantly impact your health as you age.
Researchers at Northwestern University found that some elderly people credited their good health to busy social lives. The study looked at 50 elderly participants — 31 “SuperAgers” and 19 cognitively average-for-age peers. The “SuperAgers” were a group of men and women over the age of 80 with episodic memory and impressive cognitive awareness.
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Participants were asked to fill out a 42-item questionnaire about their psychological well-being. The greatest difference between the “SuperAgers” and the other folks was the degree to which they mentioned having satisfying, warm, trusting relationships. All of the other areas on the questionnaire, including finding life’s purpose and retaining autonomy, were similar — if not the same — as their peers.
This research is in line with previous studies about the benefits of having deep and meaningful friendships. A study from William J. Chopik, found that friendships — rather than family relationships — have a tremendous impact on your long-term health. “There is now a large body of research supporting the idea that close relationships enhance health and well-being across the lifespan,” he wrote in the study. It’s simple: We get to choose our friends, which means that we’re trusting them to influence our lives in a positive way, Chopik says.
Think about it: How many times has a friend changed your perspective on something health-related? Friends influence your mood, diet, fitness regime, smoking tendency, and alcohol intake (among a slew of other things). Without close friends, we’re more at risk for heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, and dementia.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to prioritize coffee dates and nights out on the town with your BFFs. Spending time with loved ones will not only give you lasting memories to look back on but also up your chances for a long-lasting life. And soon enough, you and your pals will have a bingo table calling your name!