Do Good Friends Mean Good Health?

Connecting with people has unexpected and important impacts on our well being
March 9, 2020 Updated: March 15, 2020

When you get busy, your friends are usually the first to go. You stop seeing them, and when you run into them at the grocery store and decide a meet-up is due, it almost never materializes.

Your spouse, partner, or family members can fall aside too. Your partner may turn into a punching bag for frustrations, and family may seem like more of a nuisance than anything else.

But taking time to strengthen those bonds and prioritize relationships can aid health in a number of ways. Strong friendships are part and parcel to a healthy lifestyle, like working out and eating well.

There is research to support the idea that strong relationships contribute to better health. In fact, good relationships are positively associated with immune health, sleep quality, insulin regulation, cardiovascular health, gut health, and cognition.

It might make sense to start carving out more time for friends and partners. Using friendship as the template for familial or romantic relationships can help make you feel better.

One of the biggest ways co-operative and reciprocal relations can aid health is stress relief. Stress can impact a number of health markers, and good quality relationships have been shown to reduce stress.

A study found that a lack of strong relationships could increase the risk of premature death from all causes by 50 percent, roughly the same risk on mortality of smoking 15 cigarettes per day and higher than obesity or physical inactivity.

According to author Lydia Denworth, most people have four very close relationships, and few people are capable of sustaining more than six. The data indicates that when it comes to health benefits, friendship quality may outperform quantity.

Another study showed that midlife women who were highly satisfied in their marriage had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease than those who were less satisfied. Yet another found that couples experiencing hostile times in their marriage had weakened immunity.

Other studies have linked relationships to dementia risk.

If you’ve been meaning to reach out to some friends or rekindle the relationship with your partner, it could have major benefits on your health. It appears that good friends lead to good health.

Mohan Garikiparithi holds a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade. During a three-year communications program in Germany, he developed an interest in German medicine (homeopathy) and other alternative systems of medicine. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.