15 Scientifically Valid Facts Proving That Having Many Friends Leads to a Longer Life


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.


People with lots of friends live longer – http://www.therooster.com

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.

2. Your friends impact your weight.

Your friends impact your weight – http://s.eatthis-cdn.com

A study conducted in 2007 showed that when individuals had friends who were obese or gained weight, they gained weight as well. This phenomenon could account for the “freshman 10” – the weight gained by college students living away from home for the first time. According to the study, you are 60% more likely to gain weight if your friends are heavy or gaining as well. Since your weight impacts your overall well-being, friendships have a true impact on your physical health, too.

3. Friendships protect your brain.

Friendships protect your brain – http://servingjoy.com

A 2016 study by researchers from Harvard revealed that friends can help you retain memory and brain health as you age. Since dementia and Alzheimer’s are such a growing concern, making and keeping friendships could provide valuable protection for adults as they age. 

4. Fight cancer – with help from your friends.

Fight cancer – with help from your friends – https://www.fightcancer.org.au

A 2006 research study that tracked almost 3000 nurses afflicted with breast cancer found that women without a network of friends to rely on were more likely to die from the disease. Women with 10 or more good friends had a better survival rate, regardless of how often those friends were seen in person or what level of interaction they had. The patients with few friends were four times more likely to die from their cancer than those with 10 or more friends.

5. Friends may matter more than a spouse or family member.

Friends may matter more than a spouse or family member – http://www.comedycentral.co.uk

When it comes to health, friendships carry more weight than marriage or family. A Swedish study of 736 men over a period of 6 years showed that marriage or attachment to one person did not cut the participant’s risk of heart disease or heart attack, but that having friendships did. Lack of social support from a network of friends was a significant risk factor for the men in the study – only regular smokers were at the same level of risk as those who did not have friends.

6. Friends make burdens easier to carry.

Friends make burdens easier to carry – http://www.hindustantimes.com

A 2016 University of Virginia study looked at how students evaluated a challenge alone or when they were with a supportive group of friends. Researchers outfitted the students with a heavy, weighted backpack and then asked them to estimate the difficulty and steepness of a hill they needed to climb. Students participating with friends saw the hills less of a problem and less of a challenge than those who were going solo.

7. Loneliness is as risky as smoking when it comes to health.

Loneliness is as risky as smoking when it comes to health – https://static.independent.co.uk

In 2015, researchers analyzed over 3.4 million individuals and found that those who lacked social connections or who were isolated faced the same health risks as an individual who smoked over a dozen cigarettes each day. Being lonely was even worse for your health than being overweight, regardless of your age or gender.


8. Your relationships can impact your metabolism.

Your relationships can impact your metabolism – http://www.rd.com

A study of married couples showed that individuals who argue regularly with a spouse or partner burn fewer calories than those that do not. The findings from this research revealed that the quality of a relationship can have a real impact on your metabolism and ability to regulate your weight, a key component of your health.

9. People with poor social ties are often less healthy.

People with poor social ties are often less healthy – https://2012books.lardbucket.org

A 2015 study revealed in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that a lack of friends doubled the instances of high blood pressure and diabetes. Since this study encompassed years and hundreds of thousands of participants, researchers were able to see a clear link between friendships and common health conditions.

10. Peer pressure can be a good thing.

Peer pressure can be a good thing – http://cincinnatiparent.com

While having obese friends can cause you to become overweight as well, surrounding yourself with healthy friends who eat right and exercise can have a positive impact on your own behavior. A 2011 study confirms that surrounding yourself with healthy peers can help encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle as well; in this instance, peer pressure can help you live a better, longer life.

11. Friendships positively impact kids’ health, too.

Friendships positively impact kids’ health, too – https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au

A study conducted in 2011 on kids in fourth grade measured cortisol (a stress hormone) and found that being ostracized or excluded by peers had a negative impact on these children’s health. This chronic stress can lead to real physical and emotional complaints that can last a lifetime.

12. Physical distance doesn’t matter.

Physical distance doesn’t matter – https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

When it comes to friendship, the quality of the relationship and its benefits are not impacted by distance. A study that tracked college students from 1983 until the present day found that close friends stayed in touch for decades and retained the benefits of their emotional closeness, despite not being in the same physical location.

13. Surround yourself with friends to succeed in life.

Surround yourself with friends to succeed in life – https://assets.entrepreneur.com

A 2013 study found that surrounding yourself with friends with self-control and similar goals can help you achieve what you set out to do. Want to increase your chances of success? Surround yourself with friends!

14. People with fewer friends take more financial risk.

People with fewer friends take more financial risk – http://ichef.bbci.co.uk

The Journal of Consumer Research released a study in 2013 that showed that those who were feeling rejected or lonely made poor financial decisions or spent recklessly. While spending habits are not directly related to health, they do impact your stress levels and quality of life in a big way. From bitter breakups to family arguments and job loss (and the resultant loss of work friends), loneliness and isolation increased finance-related issues and stress.

15. Quality matters when it comes to friendships.


Quality matters when it comes to friendships – http://www.nomacorc.com

Too many superficial Facebook friends and not enough real life friendships can increase stress levels, according to researchers from the University of Edinburgh. Quality, real life friendships have a positive impact on health, but superficial ones may not do you much good at all, according to these results.

From living a longer life to maintaining a healthy weight and even avoiding risky, stress causing behaviors, friends simply make your life better. Surrounding yourself with quality friends could give you the emotional support you need to live a longer, better life.