Friendships: A Surprising Key to Longevity

Friendships: A Surprising Key to Longevity

"Make two friends and call me in the morning." The next time you ask us how to get healthy and live longer, that may be our answer.

No, don't go crazy signing up new "friends" on Facebook. It's about quality, not quantity when it comes to friendships and longevity -- about having the kinds of friends you can hang with for hours, call with big news, or give a kidney to. If you've got friends like this (like we've got each other), you have a 50% better chance of living longer than people who don't have good friends, says a startling analysis of 300,000 people and their pals.

Put another way: Having friends is as powerful as quitting smoking (and way more fun). Not having them is even more life-threatening than becoming obese or so inactive that just getting off the couch involves grunting. So making new friends and keeping the old ones near should be at the top of your healthy to-do list. If your posse is small, or you just don't see each other much anymore, try this:

  • Exercise together. Take yoga classes together, help shovel each other's sidewalks, do early morning laps around the mall. You'll catch up and work out.
  • Volunteer. Need a bigger social circle? Volunteer for a community center, a hospital, or a park cleanup. You'll connect with people who care about the same things you do. Here's another great health benefit of volunteer work.
  • Organize a reunion. Don't wait for a funeral to get together; have a happy gathering. Family pals are some of the closest friends you'll ever have.
  • Keep these important relationships alive. They'll do the same for you.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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