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The friendship checkup

Nurturing our relationships leads to better physical and mental health

(Abbey Lossing for The Washington Post)
2 min

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One of the simplest things you can do for better health this month is to call a friend.

We often take our closest friendships for granted, but nurturing our relationships pays a health dividend, reports Teddy Amenabar. He writes:

“A growing body of research shows friends are essential to a healthy life — and they are just as important for our well-being as healthy eating habits or a good night’s sleep.

Platonic love trumps romantic love in a number of ways. People with strong friendships tend to have better mental health and, studies suggest, better physical health. Researchers have found large social networks lower our risk of premature death more than exercise or dieting alone.

A six-year study of 736 middle-aged Swedish men found having a life partner didn’t affect the risk of heart attack or fatal coronary heart disease — but having friends did. A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a lot of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with few friends. Notably, having a social network of children and relatives did not affect survival rates.

To learn more about how to nourish your friendships, read the full story.

Want to be healthier? Hang out with your friends.

More simple changes for better health

January is a time of resets and resolutions. We’ve had a busy week on the Well+Being desk, with more great suggestions for getting the most out of this month when you’re extra motivated. Here is some of our advice:

It’s not just what you eat, but the time of day you eat it

Joined a gym? These 6 exercises, once a week, will make you stronger.

Ask a Doctor: How do I know if my heart is healthy?

Why do we get our best ideas in the shower?

Seasonal affective disorder can last for months. Here are the signs.

How cutting back on alcohol can help depression and anxiety

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