Friends make life interesting and fun – but they can also help improve your overall quality of life and even how healthy you are. It’s not just conjecture or a hope – there are real scientific studies that prove again and again that friendships matter; for most of us, the more real friends you have, the better off you’ll be.
While friendships matter more than ever, a 2006 study showed that Americans have slowly become more isolated socially; the research revealed that in 1985, participants cited an average of 2.94 close friends each. By 2004, that number had plummeted to just 2.08. Since having friends and close friendships is beneficial, the decline in the number of close friends the average person can rely on is alarming news. An AARP study of individuals over the age of 45 in 2010 found that of the 3,000+ people surveyed, 35% could be considered lonely. A similar study in the UK showed that despite high numbers of Facebook or online friends, the 3,300 people surveyed counted only an average of 4 real friends each.
Researchers are paying attention to both the quality and quantity of friendships and how your social network impacts your overall health. We’ve collected a group of scientific studies that showcase the importance of friendships on your emotional health so you can see the facts for yourself.
1. People with lots of friends live longer.
According to a decade long study conducted in Australia, older adults with a large group of friends were 22% less likely to die during the time studied than those with fewer friends. The people in the study were all similar ages and background and all in similar states of health – the key difference was the number of friends the participants could claim during the 10-year period.