People with hobbies live longer

7 reasons friends make our lives longer

Loneliness is bad for the mind and health. That is why acquaintances are so valuable. They protect us from being alone and increase our well-being.

Friends accompany us through life. Some have been since childhood, some come later - through training, work or hobby. Unlike relatives, we can choose them. And even if it is not always easy to maintain friendships over the years, it is worthwhile to cultivate them.

Because they provide help, make us laugh or give consolation. And they extend life. Researchers at Brigham Young University in the US state of Utah were able to show, based on the evaluation of several studies, that people with a steady circle of friends and acquaintances have a 50 percent lower risk of death than those who go through life more solitary - regardless of age, gender and social status. Seven reasons why friends are good for us and why spending time with them is a worthwhile investment.

1. Keep friends from loneliness

Loneliness is more than a feeling, as numerous studies show. Loneliness is really unhealthy. It promotes stress and high blood pressure, causes cardiovascular problems, depression and has a negative effect on the quality of sleep. Loneliness - or the lack of social ties - is ultimately just as harmful as 15 cigarettes a day, such as alcoholism or obesity, researchers emphasize. Friends are therefore an immensely important anchor in life, especially for singles and older people. If, for example, the spouse dies, the bereaved person is at great risk of dying in the following year. Because the psyche and immune system then feel extremely stressful and become more susceptible to illnesses. Friends can help fill that void. So how important they might one day become - for example, as a roommate in a shared apartment for the elderly - should be made aware at a young age.

2. Friends encourage an active lifestyle

The best friend has stopped smoking, the friend goes jogging twice a week: Friends are often role models who pull us along, motivate us and encourage us to try new things. As a group or individually, they exercise a certain amount of control, which in the best case favors a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that older people who are socially satisfied are around 40 percent more active than those who feel alone. In addition, lonely people eat more fatty foods. Shedding a few pounds or looking for a new hobby - it usually works better in company. After all, the Beatles were already singing “With a little help from my friends”.

3. Friends ground and regulate the feeling of stress

One can share joys and sorrows with friends. In particular, everyday worries - be it anger at work or relationship problems - are great to discuss with friends. This venting of steam is extremely healthy, but consuming anger is more than harmful. A study by the Institute for Clinical Physiology in Pisa, Italy, showed that pent-up negative emotions increase the risk of a heart attack by a factor of 2.3. Especially people with few social contacts tend to have a permanently increased stress level. If there is no one there to exchange ideas with, to provide emotional support and to objectively classify situations, you run the risk of perceiving burdens as stronger and pleasant moments as weaker. Pessimism, fear, helplessness - and again stress - are the consequences. Not good for the heart and circulation.

4. Friends encourage optimism

Good friends are immensely important for self-worth and self-esteem. Because what they give us is free from family "obligations". They give us positive affirmation, build us up, highlight our strengths, accept our weaknesses, selflessly show us sympathy, trust and respect. This knowledge has a great influence on our satisfaction, joy and attitude in life. Anyway, one should take an example from his satisfied and life-affirming friends. Because studies show: Optimists not only live healthier, but also live longer. A renowned Oxford professor has even found a formula for the connection between friendship and joie de vivre: meeting a group of no more than five friends twice a week leads to a high level of happiness and self-esteem.

5. Keep friends mentally fit

Cinema and pub evenings, listening and talking, heated discussions and profound philosophizing: Friends as well as joint activities and conversations with them promote our cognitive health. A study at Oxford University found that in people with high social skills and a stable circle of friends, certain parts of the brain are more networked than in those with few social contacts. This may result in valuable intellectual reserves for old age and an advantage over lonely people. Because the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease can double through poor contact and social isolation.

6. Friends strengthen the immune system

Life is healthier in a clique: According to a study by Ohio State University, people with many friends have a better immune system than those who live more withdrawn. Because where there are many social contacts, there are also many germs with which we continuously train our defenses. The researchers also found more cytokines in the blood of lonely people, proteins that can promote inflammation, heart attacks, diabetes and arthritis. Friends also play an important role in the recovery process after illness. And not just psychologically. Those who feel satisfied and supported have higher levels of the hormones oxytocin or dopamine in their blood, which boosts self-healing powers. When dear people sit at the bedside, stress hormones such as cortisol are held back and endorphins are released, substances that relieve pain.

7. Friends make us laugh

A separate subject, gelotology, deals with the effects of laughter on physical and mental health. There are laughing seminars, laughing therapies and laughing yoga. But basically it just takes a few good friends with a sense of humor and the laughter is infectious. If we pour ourselves out properly, it's like a flying visit to the gym: When we laugh, over a hundred muscles - from the face to the stomach - get going, the cells are supplied with more oxygen and the heart and circulation are stimulated. Adrenaline and the happiness hormone serotonin drive away grouchy, pessimistic thoughts. Humorous people not only think their lives are very happy, they also get older than curmudgeons.