When it comes to staying healthy, eating right and working out are no-brainers. But there is something equally — but not as obviously — valuable to your health: hanging out with your friends.
According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the more social connections people make throughout their lives, the healthier they'll be later on, and the longer they'll live.
Research has shown in the past that people live longer if they have strong social ties toward the end of life, but this is the first study to make the connection between having a lot of friends as an adolescent and staying healthy for the rest of your life.
The researchers gathered data from four nationally representative surveys of the U.S. population that included information on over 14,000 people's blood pressure, waist circumference, body mass index, and a protein that's a common marker of inflammation. They then compared how respondents described three aspects of their social lives: "social integration," "social support," and "social strain."
Then, looking at whether the quality and quantity of social ties were associated with the specific health markers, they came out with a few key findings: