healthy living, health, friendship, marriage, longevity, research

We’ve all heard that being married can keep us alive longer. So, what about friendship? Research has identified, you can live up to 22 per cent longer just by having good friends. Sounds too simple, right? Ditch your running pants and diet plan for a few minutes to find out just how easy it is.

Marriage and life span

First up, let’s take a look at marriage. It’s been a known fact for quite a while that marriage increases your chances of living longer. Epidemiologists call this correlation the Marriage Protection Hypothesis. It’s not an exact science but they recommend it has something to do with the following:

  • Having a family to live for, reduces risky behaviours; like heavy drinking and driving at excessive speeds
  • A spouse will encourage you to get health concerns looked at by a GP and identify terminal illnesses earlier
  • Married couples focus on staying healthy in smaller ways; like putting on sunscreen and wearing warm clothing
  • Having a partner to talk to reduces daily stress which deters anxiety and depression
  • Intellectual conversations wards of dementia
  • Married couples tend to eat better than singles
  • Being married at an elderly age reduces the risk of depression due to isolation
  • Perhaps, healthy people just attract a mate easier and that’s why they live longer

It’s very difficult to pin point the exact reasons married people live longer. Instead, researchers suggest it is a combination of factors. It should also be stated that the quality of the relationship is a vital determinant of longevity. While couples in healthier marriages live longer, this is untrue for couples in dysfunctional relationships. This may have something to do with friendship and longevity.

Friendship and life span

I don’t know about you but I have a couple of exceptionally good friends. We laugh, we cry and we help each other through those ultra tough times when everyone else seems to abandon us. Research has now identified that friendship is not only good for our social lives, but also incredibly important for our overall wellbeing.

In a review of 148 studies, with a whopping 308,849 subjects, researchers found that isolation and loneliness were equally as harmful to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, not exercising, alcoholism and double the risks associated with obesity. It make sense then that a Chinese study of 2,230 cancer patients found the number one indicator of survival was social connectedness. It seems friendship is not only important to maintain health, but also helps us heal when we are ill.

Finally, in an Australian Longitudinal study of ageing, friendship was identified as being able to increase longevity by up to 22 per cent. This could be a significant factor as to why the nursing home population is extraneously dominated by widowed, female residents. Although men can have many friendships; few would equal the intimacy, which female friends experience.

So that about wraps it up. Ladies not only have proof they need to tell our partners to go to the doctors but scientific evidence to support chatting on the phone and heading out for that coffee date!

By Kim Chartres