Good friends may help our life last longer, say researchers at Flinders University, Australia . It found that those who had a large network of friends outlived those with the fewest friends by 22 percent. And the friendships usually fight off depression and boost confidence.
People may become more selective as they grow old in their choice of friends. But the most vital factor about friendships is contentment, not the number of friends or what they do together. Some studies have shown that having good friendships contributes to a stronger immune system and better self-care. On the contrary, be aware of bad friends – they might not only get on your nerves at times, but they are also bigger risks than you realise. For example, bad friends encourage unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and heavy drinking. Being in bad group can also help you develop new skills that are harmful for the family and the whole society. The dynamics of a bad group often mirror those of dark part of society in general.
Having good friends can have an intense effect on physical and mental health, according to an Indiana University study. According to some researchers, sometimes friends may be better than family. In fact good relatives are also good friends. They persuade you to take better care of yourself. A good friend not only listens and guides you, but also supports your decisions. They also help to face adverse events.
Good friends also provide material aid, emotional support, and information to deal with the stress factors. Lots of research have shown the health benefits of social support.
Gather a group of friends and find a walking way that everyone knows may be named as ‘Friends Walkathon’, which can be the best way to keep your body in shape. Perhaps the biggest benefit of friends’ circle is in helping to realise that he or she is not alone — there are other people who have the same problem. This is often a revelation and an enormous relief to the individual.
Other studies have shown that people with fewer friends have a tendency to die sooner after having a heart attack than people with a strong social network. It is interesting that having lots of friends may even reduce chances of catching a cold. That is true even though you are probably exposed to more viruses if you spend a lot of time with others.
Dr Tasha R Howe (Humboldt State University) believes that people with social support have fewer cardiovascular problems and immune problems and lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). Because, the evolutionary argument maintains that humans are social animals and we have evolved to be in groups. We do need others for our survival. Probably for that reason, people with good friends feel more relaxed, enjoy more peaceful life, which is interrelated to better health.
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Good friends – good health Bad friends – bad health!
Dr Rubaiul Murshed
Source: The Daily Star, November 15, 2008