The one instance when skipping a workout is good for you

Shockingly, a lack of social bonds and loneliness has the same negative impact on overall health and longevity as smoking and alcoholism.


Photo, iStock.

Never underestimate the healing power of friendship, or the significant role that a supportive partner plays in your long-term health. Studies suggest (via Prevention) that close friends and good romantic partners are as important to overall health and wellness as exercise and healthy habits.

In short, strong emotional bonds and lively social networks keep both our body and mind in strong, healthy shape.

Though age often affects our friend-making abilities — it’s not so easy to meet friends when you’re working and have familial responsibilities — the importance of continuing to forge social bonds with people is clear.

One 2010 study (via Prevention) by researchers at Brigham Young University found that loneliness has roughly the same negative impact on overall health and longevity as a heavy smoking habit, alcoholism and a sedentary lifestyle. By contrast,  people that possessed a social network boosted their longevity by 50 percent.

It’s not just friends that bolster our health. Loved ones play a significant role, too. Another study by researchers in Denmark (via Women’s Health) found a strong link between chronic marital conflict and an increased risk of premature death.

However, social conflict and loneliness aren’t easily solved problems. In many instances, such as a fledgling marriage or romantic union, conflict is natural and is (hopefully) the means by which a better union is forged.

Rather than feel bad about how relationship challenges affect health and well-being, it may be wiser to simply make healthy relationships the priority. And take on wiser and less stressful approaches to dealing with conflict.

So if you need to choose between finding time to workout or catching up with a close friend, opting for the latter can be just as beneficial to health and happiness.

Read more:

The six types of friends every woman should have 

Stop nagging! Tips to break the habit and improve your relationship

How to speak your man’s language

Eight ways to get through the heartbreak of divorce