Six ways friends keep you healthy

A healthy lifestyle is essential if you want to stay well and live a long life. But there’s also lots of evidence that having friends and a good social network can also play a part in keeping you well, both physically and emotionally.

Studies suggest having friends and good neighbours may improve your chances of living a long and healthy life by up to 50 percent. Social isolation, on the other hand, can make you unwell. For instance, psychologists from Brigham Young University have discovered being lonely can have the same effect on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic, and twice the effect of being obese.

Here are just six ways keeping in regular touch with friends and family members could benefit your health and wellbeing:

1. You may live longer A review of 148 studies tracking the social interactions and health of more than 300,000 people suggests having strong social relationships could make you 50 percent more likely to live a longer life.

2. You may have a healthier lifestyle Studies claim health-conscious friends and family members may have a positive influence on your lifestyle. The Edelman Health Barometer global survey found 46 percent of people said friends and family had an impact on their lifestyle with regards to their health, with 36 percent saying friends and family are the biggest influence on their nutrition.

3. You may have fewer colds Experts writing in the Journal of American Medical Association believe that having a wider social network could make you more resistant to upper respiratory illnesses, such as the common cold (the more diverse your social network, the lower your susceptibility to catching colds).

4. You may sleep better A study published in the scientific journal Sleep found feeling lonely may also be linked with poor sleep. An earlier study published in the same journal found students who felt lonely suffered from disrupted sleep (the lonelier they felt, the more their sleep was broken during the night).

5. You may have a better brain A 10-minute chat with a friend could be as good for your brain as doing your newspaper’s daily crossword puzzle, say researchers writing in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

6. You may have more self-esteem Staffordshire University researchers have discovered that indulging in a little positive gossip with your friends may even make you feel better about yourself afterwards – as long as you avoid negative comments.

Make friends with your local Careway pharmacist, who’s there whether you need prescription medicines, over-the-counter health products, advice about a health problem or just a chat – no appointment necessary. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.