Friends Do Our Bodies Good: Do You Agree?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last week I wrote a blog on the important role our pets play in our lives and how they bring so much joy, love, and happiness into our every day lives. However, we should never underestimate the power of friendships in helping us embrace a healthier way of living.

Last week in an article published in The New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope titled What Are Friends for? A Longer Life the author reveals the strong bond friendships can bring to our health. Not only do friends help those suffering from depression and illness, but they have been shown to “speed recovery, slow aging, and prolong life." They are an invaluable support in times of crisis as well as times of joy.

I know my friends have been an invaluable source for me over the years. And while our friends may come and go, the wonderful thing is there is always opportunity to make new friends along the way. I have made so many new friends at the gym, when I volunteer, and in the three running groups I belong to.

And now with much of the world having access to the internet, websites such as SparkPeople, Facebook, and MySpace are bringing friends back together like never before while allowing new bonds to form. In fact, I have reconnected with quite a number of my high school and college classmates whom I had lost contact many years earlier and WOW, am I having the time of my life.

A few months ago on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy there was a story-line where a patient who was suffering from a facial malady was visited by his on-line friends at the hospital. While they had never met in person before this day, over the months they had develop a bond. They had become this man’s social network.

That is exactly what so many of my SparkFriends are—they are my social network. From Donna in Florida who knows me better then I know myself, to Janet in Maryland who inspires me each and every day with her courage and aspirations, to Tami in Washington who shares her passion for running, to Judi, Trish, and Gail my Canadian friends who always offer me great support and encouragement in this journey we call life. And for all the many others who have inspired me along the way, I can honestly say, as much as I may inspire you guys, you all inspire me every day to carry on with this great journey.

So here’s to GREAT friends!

One of my all-time favorite songs pretty much sums up the true meaning of friendship...

“Keep smilin', keep shinin'
Knowin' you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for.”
Written by Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager

How important are your friends in your life? Do find it harder or easier to make friends as you get older? Do you believe they help keep you healthier?

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I love my friends but none of them have a weight problem. Sometimes they sabatoge my weight loss efforts. I wish that I was stronger but I give in to the temptation. I say no about 4 times before I give in. Report
I absolutely agree about friendship. What I would do without my network of different types of friends, I ha ve no idea. I talk to them, e-mail, blog and facebook. Different friends give me support in different ways but they are all there in someway when I need the, A TOAST to friends of all kinds. Report
I'd say when you are younger and in school it's easy to make a lot of friends..and as you get older I think you can still make friends but it's different, usually more meaningful and fewer but truer..well at least in my experience. Report
support system with caring family or friends is important but god has to come first for me then it all falls in place. Report
I think friends and family are what keep you sane and insane world. You find companionship and you find happiness! Report
I'm not sure I agree with that. I am a loner and always have been. I prefer my own company but do have several friends. I just don't like to feel guilty when they stop by unexpectedly or want me to do something when I'd rather not. Report
Friends are very important to me!!! I have a friend who has always been there
thru the good the bad, and ugly!!! A Friend is a treasure that is sometimes found when you are not looking. Report
I do believe that having friends is important for helping a person live a longer, healthier life. I've read many studies that say that people who are more "social" live longer. That makes so much sense to me. When we have friends, we have a stress release i.e. someone to talk to when we're under pressure. Having friends means we get out of the house. We aren't isolated.

So, yes I do think having friends helps keep me healthy.

Do I find it hard to make friends now that I'm older ? Not really. I've always been good at talking with people. If anything I'm much more social now than I was when I was younger.

I have few friends, especially because as a single mom my world revolves around my son most of the time! My best friend is my cousin! She has held my hand when my younger son passed away and she has never at anytime judged me for my many faults. She lives in a different state and yet we talk 4-6 times a day! True friends are rare to find but once you have them in your life you can't imagine your life without them! Their encouraging words are some times the only thing you need to hear to make your day a 100% better! Report
Friends are extremely important, and not just for weight loss journey, for LOTS of reasons.

I find that as I get older I feel I have an easier time making friends or maybe I have just become less strict on my definition of "friend". I have three very close friends in my area but I feel I have many friends all over the US and other countries because of the contacts I have made through Spark People. It's a GREAT place for the growth of friendships. Report
Friends, are indeed, very important. And, good friends are a gift of God. I have many loyal friends and it is important to be that kind of friend to others as well. I have two very best friends; one of whom is my room mate and sister in the faith, Norma. My other dearest friend of 32 yrs is Marlene. Without these dear companions I wouldn't be as happy in my life. The Bible says "there exists a friend sticking closer than a brother." ~Proverbs 18:24. This has proved true in my life. Report
I would love to meet a good friend here for support as well as comraderie. I think it gets harder as you get older. Plus with moving and work, it's hard for me to stay in touch sometimes. I just wish that I a had a good friend here. Report
Last year I was going through a really tough time and if it had not been for my friends I do not think I would have survived!!! Report
I agree with this post and honestly feel that friends really do our bodies good. No one can get to you like a friend can. They can tell you honestly how you are really doing even if it is bad and when it is they will be there to help you turn things around. Friends are the best for your mind, body and soul. Report
Friends are an important part of my life. I have a friend who is an older lady. This person has been my true friend for over thrity years, she encourages me, gives me words of wisdom and never steer me wrong. She has been a friend who loves God and will tell me when I am wrong in a godly way. Friends can be a true change inones life if the right friend comes along. Report
Friends are very important in my life. My DH is my very best friend. I have several close girl friends as well. My one close friend is in her late 70's and I am 60. I also have remained close friends with 2 males I met when I was 16. DH has met them both, and even went diving with my one friend from New York. I am grateful for all the friends I have had pass through my life that were given to me for a specific reason at that specific time in my life, and then have moved on. I thank God for my family who are my friends as well. I have 2 brothers and a sister. Report
I have many "aquantiences " in my life but true face to face friends? not really. I like being alone and spending time alone and I don't miss the drama behind having several friends LOL. I have had a few very good friends in my life and they are all no longer good friends and I was let down more times than lifted up so i am not rushing out to make face to face friends anytime soon. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my online friends as it is. So I am happy. Report
I have several close friends that I trust with my life and I also have numerous friends that know me fairly well but are not the super friends. Friends are very important for all the reasons listed above. Great support system having girlfriends. I don't have much trouble making new friends, I have made some here on SP, at Pogo and in real life. Two of my good friends live in TX and I met them at Pogo and we visit each other in person, phone and internet often. Report
Friends make all the difference in the world. I have very few but are very trusted with my life. Happy or sad or even mad we love each other no matter what. I make friends easily so age for doesn't matter. Report
Yes I know as a fact that my friends do help me when ever I'm down they will help boost me up. They are all ways there for me, and like wise i'm all ways there when ever they need me. Report
Oh I absolutely agree that true friends are essential. I can honestly count my real, true friends on one hand. Not only are they supportive in my weight loss goals, but also with all my other "problems" in life. They keep it real with me, including telling me what I don't want to hear and risk getting me upset to push me in the right direction. Yeah, I get mad, but I also get over it because I know they're right. :)
My Mum always said to me "If you can count your true friends on one hand, you are very lucky"
There are people that come into your life but they are acquintances.
People come and go. You can't take anyone for granted.
I treasure true friendship. Pure friendship. Not bitchy behind your back, someone who can say what they like to your face and never be offended. Can take the good with the bad and is always there for you, no matter what!
A friendship takes years to make. And I treasure my friends who are there for me as I am for them.
Hi, I am new to this. I am English and have moved to Morocco,with language barriers I find it incredibly hard to make the idle chit chat that fires relationships. Having many requests to speak english I found myself lonely in a crowd of people wanting my language but not me. I made 1 very good friend 2 years ago within 2 weeks we homed our schedules to get as much free time together as poss, she has now been re-located to Paris and I am feeling lost and bereft reaching constantly for the comfort foods.The beach is a sea of emptiness now. So yes I need friends to be healthy in heart and body. Report
One of my best friends has been such since the 3rd grade, and even though we both had moved to different schools by 9th grade, we've remained best of friends. We've traveled very different paths, but this fall when we go to the same college together and live together (two years into the normal college career), we'll have traveled toward one another. There is nothing like a best friend. Report
Funny this should come out today. My friend from Texas (I now live in Alabama) called me last night and we talked for 45 minutes. It was awesome to call and talk. We are both grandparents now. What is better to talk about than how sweet they are. She was very surprised to find out that I was now swimming every day and working out. She inspired me to call another Texas friend. Facebook has been great in that I have found friends that I went to high school with 30 years ago. Our renunion is next summer...a little motivation for the weight loss!!!!! Report
I don't know where I would be without my friends. I have quite a few friends that I have known since before Elementary School, I would trust them with my life. Their support and encouragement has gotten me through a lot.
As I get older, I have learned not to fully trust people. I know it's negative, but when you have been burned by people you thought were your friends this is the outcome. This is something that makes finding friends as I age a bit difficult but not impossible. Report
I may be a loner in this, but there are some friends I have that are great for general well-being, but not for weight loss. since I lost weight and they didn't, they sometimes make little remarks that I brush off, but find rather annoying from time to time. Report
I also agree with this blog. Friends are more important that most of us realize. I have a best friennd that I can't imagine living without. She and I knew each other when she was 1 and I was 2 - I'm now 61. Our families were friends and now that our parents are gone, we are still and have always been best friends. I still have many other friends from high school and from previous jobs and church. All in all, I guess I would have to say, as others here have said, that my friends are extremely important to me. Report
I have been blessed to have had many good friends in this life.I have a friend that I talk to weekly and we are planning to run a marathon together .She has been my best friend since 3rd grade.I have another good friend I hung around in highschool and we are still good friends.I have a friend I have known for 10 yrs that I call my best friend now because she is alway's there for me and we feel that our relationship was God's plan . I also have two daughter,s who I consider my best friends and the ones who know me best . I am almost 50 yrs old and cannot imagine my life without friends. The ones you babble with , listen to and learn from. The ones who are on your mind when you are trying to go to sleep and on your mind when you are drinking your coffee. the one you call to come drink coffee with you. The one you want to go on the road trip with. The ones you owe your sanity to.Thank you Lord for the gift of friendship!!! Report
I would have to agree that friends are a very important part of life. I have a friend that I have been friends with for 12 yrs and I would be totally lost without her. We have so much in common and have been there for each other thru the good and teh bad. I have another real life friend that has moved away but we talk just about every week on the phone or the computer. Then I have my family , they are nolt just family they are my friends to. We support each other and help each other out any way we can. Then last I have my SPARK FRIENDS, you all to are my family. Sparks friends are friends that know and understand what you are going thru and how you feel and that is what true friends are. People that can help, support, and listen to each other are friends. Friends are a huge part of a happy life, and i wouldn't give any of my friends up for the world. THANK YOU MY FRIENDS. Report
I think that friends are so important, having said that, some friends are for a season, some friends are for a reason, and some friends are for life. I have been fortunate in that I have had such good friends throughout my life. However, some have moved on and some have stayed with me through thick and thin. I value each and everyone of them. Report
I agree that friends are very important. Without them we would all be lost. I have internet friends and friend i made while my husband was in the Air Force. I don't have any friends that live close by, but i consider my husband and daughter close friends. We hang out together and enjoy each other's company. Report
Great blog, couldn't agree more and it was lovely to see you quote "That's What Friends Are For" - one of my favourite songs and one that I love to sing with my's a song that really reminds me what it's all about! x Report
I *heart* my Spark friends! :) Report
I couldn't agree more! Without immediate family nearby (I am in Ontario and the majority of my relatives ate in British Columbia) I am fortunate that I have some very good friends that have been able to help in times of need. I wouldn't have been able to get through some life changing events without them! Report
I have a lot of people I consider "friends," but only some of them are close friends. I can't imagine my life without them. A couple are IRL (In Real Life [as in, offline]) friends who I've know for years and years. Others are online friends, and they're just as important to me as my IRL friends. It might seem odd to some, but I think it's perfectly possible to develop close friendships with people I'll never meet, or have only met a couple of times. I think some other SparkPeople members would agree with me there. :)
Anyway, I'm not sure what I'm getting at here, other than how much I cherish my friendships. Report
I don't have friends eithers, I am friendly and have wished all my life to develop a bond with someone (s) that would be like having another sister. I love to encourage and see folks happy so I take that as my lot in life and pray that some day I will find a friend that can do the same for me. I have had very close assoicates but can't add them into the friend as of yet.
I love SP and the folks I have met through it, I look forward daily to interacting with all my online friends and love hearing about their journeys. Life is still good! Report
I've never really had any close friends. I know 2 or 3 people I talk to occasionally, but I'm pretty much alone all the time except for my mother who lives with me. I always thought it would be great to have friends, but never could make any. I do just fine by myself and really don't think they're necessary. Report
Yes, definitely! A true friend will invite you for lunch and cook something healthy, if she knows that's what you want. A true friend will say, "I don't think he's right for you. In fact, every time you get the urge to marry him, I think you should go slam your head in the door until the urge goes away." And then if you marry him anyway, she'll come to your wedding with a huge gift and a smile (and then pray for you in private!) Report
My friends are an inspiration to my life. They challenge me to dream beyond my fears. However, more valuable is the solidity of having other humans to share in the celebration of life. Although it is more difficult to discover new friends with age, I am content with the friendships life has given me. My personal friendships have definitely enhanced my health. There is nothing more powerful than the human touch, even if it is thousands of miles away.
I like my little friend he is there when I come home and ready with a happy face. Willing to spend time with me no matter what time of the day it is. Goes out for a walk too! always ready. Report
Friends are very important to me!!! I have a friend who has always been there
thru the good the bad, and ugly!!! She dosen't judge me for my weight either!! I lost a good friend to death, and i miss her!!! So I appreciate the true friends I have,Friends are better than gold!! I have made friends in Spark too!!! That is very nice too!! I look forward to her spark mail!! Hope to make more spark friends!!! ROSEMARDORF Report
I grew up as an Air Force brat, moving about every 3 years. Being the new kid at school attracted friends but the goodbyes were always hard. I feel you can never have enough friends and have to have something to attract friends like a hobby, a club, a committment, or simply a SPARKling personality. Once the connection is made, friends have to be cultivated and nurtured like remembering birthdays or favorite flowers. Sometimes I don't take the time for friends and later regret it. Let's all celebrate our friends this week and get that intrinsic reward of feeling good about sharing our lives with those we love. OK? Report
“A friend is loving at all times and becomes a brother in times of trouble.” (Proverbs 17:17, The Bible in Basic English)

I am 66 years old...I live alone with partial disability.My phone seldom rings, I seldom see my daughters or my family. I get very lonely. Without my friends, I would be very depressed.

I have a spiritual family that makes me feel very connected and cared for. I don't know what I would do without them. I also have my friends here on SP that I connect with on a daily basis. Without them I would be a very lonely person indeed.
I believe friends are very important. I have lots of people I would call acquaintances and 5-6 people I would call true friends. They are someone that I can call at any time day or night and they will be there for me! We all have friends that we have lost touch with over the years and sometimes I still miss them. But people and circumstances change and so do our friends which isn't always a bad thing. Report
My daughter is constantly making fun of me and my 'busy' schedule... I have 'meetings' at least 3-4 times a week to get together with friends - either for a Bible study, lunch date, or coffee talk!? I am blessed to work from home and make my own schedule - and have always been a SAHM... so I know I am lucky enough to be able to make the time for my friends - but they are vital in my life! In fact, some of my closest friends in the past year have been made here - through SparkPeople... in fact, about 12 of us are meeting up for our own Retreat in June to finally meet in person! I cannot wait!!!
~Karrilee~ Report
I move around the country quite a bit. It's hard to maintain friendships from a long distance. But, there are a few people that I have kept in contact with and it is worth the effort. I love that I can pick up the phone and have that instant familiarity with those people and know that I can say whatever and never be judged. That is freedom! Report
My friends are very important to me. I have a handful of true friends and I find them very important. They allow me to express frustration, they give me honost feedback when I express myself and they are there for me through thick and thin.My true friends support me during my weight loss process and that is critically important. Report
I am almost deaf which keeps me from being as out going as I normally am. But over the years I have met a lot of people from online chat communities and have 8 very close friends here on Sparks that I consider my best friends. I have met a few of them in person and we are all getting together in June, can't wait, 4 of the ladies I haven't met yet and just can't wait to give them a big hug and talk for hours on end with them all. Report
Makes me think of my fav James Taylor song....You've got a of sparkpeople's gifts to me is the new and ever expanding network of friends who really are there " when you're down and troubled" as well as when you're celebrating success. Report
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