A new study has proved the health benefits of having friends. According to scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the larger a person's friendship circle at a young age, the healthier they are early and later in life.
The study analyzed 20 years of data and found a positive connection between social relationships and health and longevity.
‘Study finds that the sheer size of a person's social network is significant for health in early and late adulthood.’
The study was built on the foundation of four nationally representative surveys of the US population that together tracked the lifespan from adolescence to the advanced years.
The researchers examined the connection between elements of social relationships "social integration, social support, and social strain" and markers of physical well-being in each stage of life.
"We studied the interplay between social relationships, behavioral factors and physiological dysregulation that, over time, lead to chronic diseases of aging ó cancer being a prominent example," Yang Claire Yang, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, and co-author of the study. Results showed that the larger a person's social network in early and late life, the lower the risk of physical impairment ó and conversely, those more isolated were "associated with vastly elevated risk in specific life stages."
The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.