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The Health Benefits of Friendship

By Sara Butler

When you encourage your child to make friends on the first day of school, that's really advice you should follow too. That's because friendships are important no matter how old you are, not only so you have someone to gossip about the latest episodes of reality television with, but because there are legitimate health benefits to having friends. In fact, maintaining friendships is one of the best things you can do for your continued health and wellness. Here's why.

Friends Reduce Stress

When people feel close to another person their levels of progesterone go up. This hormone helps to reduce anxiety and stress. It also helps to establish bonds with other people.

By reducing stress in this way, you also reduce your risk of developing chronic health conditions such as depression, obesity, and heart disease. Your friends may just save your life!

Friends Keep Your Mind Sharp

When studies have observed older people, those over 80, who has the memory function of middle-aged adults, they discovered how these "super-agers" did it -- by maintaining more positive social relationships.

Plenty of studies suggest that engagement with family and friends, emotional support, and social integration are all linked to increased cognitive function as people age. So, high-quality social relationships as you get older is an important factor in keeping your mind sharp.

Friends Lengthen Your Life

It's been well documented that people who have good social support systems are more likely to live longer than those who do not. In fact, other studies have shown that people with cancer who have great social support systems and friends are more likely to survive. That's a pretty awesome perk to friendships!

Friends Make You Healthier

There's a reason why people who have workout buddies tend to be healthier -- friends motivate you to be better. When you have a close friend who exercises, volunteers, or is really good at saving money, then you're more likely to engage in the same behaviors. Conversely, when you have friends with bad habits such as chaotic relationships or smoking, that behavior tends to get mimicked in your own life. So, be careful who you choose as a friend!

The evidence is overwhelming -- friendship is good for you. So, embrace the relationships you have and don't be afraid to create new ones when you meet someone who you find interesting.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Rowlett, Tex.

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