Friendship can have a number of surprising health benefits, although researchers are still determining just what it is about spending time with friends that can lower blood pressure, boost willpower and even prevent breast cancer, among other things.
This positive influence is rooted in psychology, says Barbel Knauper, associate professor of psychology at McGill University. “Our perception of a behaviour is influenced by the judgment of people who are important to us.” In other words, we care what our loved ones think. That said, for reasons that are not yet fully understood, gal pals tend to have a greater influence on each other than male pals have on their friends.
To swap only good health behaviours, make sure you hang out with motivational, close friends Unless you’re in meaningful friendships—and experts say you know when you are—you may experience the negative health effects of loneliness, according to research. Here are four ways friends are good for your health: