Experts Say That Spending More Time With Friends Could Help You Live Longer

There are roughly eleventy-billion different programs, products, and advice columns meant to help you live longer.

Approximately the same amount of money is spent on those programs, products, and things mentioned in advice columns via handy affiliate links. It's a thriving market, for good or ill.

But researchers have some good news for those of us that can't stomach another green smoothie or charcoal cleanse.

Unsplash | Alex Loup

If you want to live longer, then maybe you don't need to spend a fortune on whatever dubious trend Goop is promoting lately.

Maybe you just need to spend more time with your friends.

An overview published by Harvard Health explains that strong social connections have been shown to both increase overall health and improve longevity.

The benefits can be as effective as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, or being a non-smoker.

Unsplash | Ben White

Pretty cool, right? Since friendship requires no specific products or regimen, it's one of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve one's health.

There could be as much as a 50% increase in survival for those with strong social connections.

Unsplash | Helena Lopes

That number was the result of a meta-analysis of 148 different studies that dealt with social relationships and mortality.

This was regardless of age, gender, cause of death, or other risk factors.

As a loner and introvert, I was glad to see that the focus was on strength of connection, not number of friends.

So many pro-socializing articles and columns still seem to subscribe to the "Extrovert Ideal" and spend a lot of their word count promoting ideas that don't work for people like me.

There's a difference between being "lonely" and being "alone".

Unsplash | Kristina Tripkovic

There have been some studies suggesting that loneliness could even increase the risk of dementia. And that loneliness was felt regardless of the person's marital status or the size of their support network.

You can have a ton of friends, but no real connections.

Unsplash | Phil Coffman

Connection means having a deeper trust or companionship with a person or group.

Luckily, it's easy to maintain those connections. Something as simple as regular coffee dates or doing activities together can keep those bonds strong.

So what if my book club has a bad habit of not finishing the book?

The important part is that we've been getting together and connecting over our mutual interests for three years now, which is a long time for many book clubs.

So whether it's a club, a sports team, a girls' trip to an exotic locale, or just movie night in pjs, hang out with your friends. It could help you live longer.

Filed Under: