Do friends actually improve your health?

Strong friendships comes with so many benefits; companionship, attention, and affection to name a few. Friends are there to talk, listen, to spend time with you and help you when you need it, but are there actual health benefits that emerge from having friends? I thought this was an interesting question to research after hearing my cousin talk about how she feels physically better when she is hanging out with her friends, now granted she is only nine years old,  but it did get me thinking…could she be on to something? Could something that seems strictly emotional affect people physically?

Image result for mike and sulley friendship quotes

According to a study conducted by the Centre for Studies on Human Stress (CSHS), having friends has a positive effect on young people when they are faced with a stressful or negative event. The study focused on kids in 5th and 6th grade and measured their stress levels by looking at a hormone called cortisol. The study showed that when the students with friends were faced with a negative event, there was no increase in their cortisol levels. The results show the positive support that friends can give are able to effect physical factors. I think the study is a good starting point, and could open the door to more intricacies. Maybe study the different forms of support techniques offered by each friend to see what is the best technique to combat stressful and traumatic events? Is it more personality based or is one approach better than another? Other studies show that having friends can actually improve your life span by an extensive amount. According to an observational study of over 300,000 people for 7.5 years, the participants with strong social relationships through social media and personal friendships had increased their chances of survival over the given time period by almost 50 percent. That percentage is equivalent to people that quit smoking AND nearly twice as beneficial as exercising. 

Image result for photos of happy friendsImage result for friends

Now the question that arises is, how do having friends bring abut these health benefits? Data shows that friends help people from doing things that are bad for their physical well being like smoking or self harming in other ways. Friends have also been proven to ward off depression, boost happiness, and provide support through trying times. Although this data is very reassuring to someone like me that strives off of making new connections and friends, is important to understand that testing data like this is very difficult. How does one measure happiness and well being? Could these people in these percentages just be in great physical shape? The answer to that is yes, and there could be a random correlation with this data, but like the experiment in class we read about, the perceived benefits greatly outweigh the risks. So go hang out with your friends and have a good time, extend your life a little bit why don’t you?


Human Stress

Define Cortisol

Friendships and Living Longer

6 thoughts on “Do friends actually improve your health?

  1. Ashley Elizabeth Day

    As we start a new journey of our life aka college, I thought this blog was interesting. Making new friends is a big part of college. Finding people who can support you and just have fun with is crucial. Although it is hard to measure happiness there are payoffs to having friends around that can be evident. This link Code explains some of the benefits of having those connections. I really like #13, because friends can bring you back to reality when making rash decisions that you might eventually regret. Take a look through the list and see some of the awesome benefits. And Im always looking to make more friends!

  2. Melissa Raquel Fraistat

    I really enjoyed this article, and I agreed with everything. I remember at the end of my senior year of high school, I become friends with a whole new group of people. I vividly remember one time when I was with them thinking about happy I was. It wasn’t as if I was unhappy prior to becoming friends with them, but it was evident that they merely made me more happy. Even when I wasn’t with them, I seemed to be in a better mood more often than before. Now that I’m thinking about it more after reading your post, I find it very interesting that other people can have such an impact on your life. Here is another article I found on the same topic. I think #4 is interesting, stating that even friends who aren’t your best friends can still make you happier.

  3. Mya Legend Avant

    The idea of having friend improving ones health got me thinking. Maybe it’s not the friends themselves that cause better emotional and physical health, but a third confounding variable. It could be that the concept of being a part of something may be playing a role in how people feel. Perhaps you don’t need to spend a whole bunch of time with your friend, rather you just need a sense of purpose. Being a part of something and having a purpose can not only make people happy and lead to a longer life, but it can keep people out of trouble. If they feel the are spending there time doing something important they will be less likely to do something that would not be good for them. In fact one of our own professor gave a Ted Talk that showed it audience and extreme example of what I am talking about through the science of sociology. He showed how suicide was less personal than one might think, but in doing so he also shows that feeling like your a part of something can make the difference.

  4. Pengji Wei

    Hi Beza.
    Great article. I think a friend is really important to our lives too. Just like you said, a good friend can have a positive affect when we face a stressful situation. For example, when I first came to United State, my English are not really good, so I have a lots of pressure back that time. But in a short time, I made some friends, and by spending time with them, I got fit into the new environment really quick. So form this we can see friend is really important to us. Because a good friend can make us fell happy every day. So I think we should have a good friend in our life, and it can definitely improve our healthy. And here is a link about why we should have a good friend in our life.

  5. dms6519

    I agree that making new friends and having good quality friends does make your life good. However, i also think that everything needs to be balanced. Relying on your friends to be happy all the time is not going to make you into a strong person too so I think that you should also learn to live alone sometimes. Sometimes friends can be distracting and makes us forget to develop ourselves. Getting some help is always good but to grow as a person, i believe that we need to be independent as well. As I came to America, i felt like being separated from my high school friends allow me to grow further as i learn to tackle challenges on my own and then i could share the experiences i have with them later on.

  6. Griffin Lambert Brooks

    I couldn’t agree more with this blog. I’ve always been a very outgoing person and very easy to get along with. I have always felt that having friends and making lots of new friends is something that just makes your life better. I am always a family first kind of person and I hope everybody else is too but I feel that having friends is like a side family and someone you can talk to other than your parents or siblings. Having friends makes you feel like you’re a part of something and besides who wants to not have any friends and not have people to talk to! Here is an article explaining why its pointless not not have any friends!

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