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How Friendships Improve Your Health

How Friendships Improve Your Health

In a memorable scene from I Love Lucy, Lucy and Ethel go on stage to perform a song about friendship, only to notice that they’re wearing the same dress, even though each had promised to buy a different one. “It's friendship, friendship, just the perfect blendship,” they croon as they begin to rip flowers and ribbons from one another’s ensembles in a far-from-friendly display.

While like that duo, you may not always see eye-to-eye with your best friend, evidence shows it’s good to keep your pals around, especially as you get older. This discovery comes from Northwestern University’s study of SuperAgers—people over 80 whose memory is as good as someone 20 to 30 years younger. Seems the clear-thinking cadre are more likely to have satisfying, high-quality relationships than their peers who are cognitively average.

Add this to research that shows people who are more socially engaged are at a lower risk of heart disease and you have good reasons to keep in touch with your buddies.

If you’re shy or a bit of an introvert, don’t worry about it. A few special people you trust and can rely on is all that’s needed to get the benefits of social support and affection. And if you could use some more folks in your life, get back in touch with an old friend or join a community like a gym, a book or bridge club or a walking group. It’s never too late to make new friends.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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