It may come as a surprise to many, but strong and supportive relationships are just as important for your health as diet and exercise. In fact, without them your risk of premature death from all causes is increased by a whopping 50 percent. So don’t take your friends and fam for granted. On day three of Women’s Health Week, we’re covering how to spread the love and improve your social health.

First step? Spend more time with your BFFs. Yep, this healthy habit is far more appealing than burpees and broccoli and can benefit your wellness in a multitude of ways. Here are some of them. 

1. They can lessen the blow of rejection

Sure, smashing a family block while bingeing on your fave Netflix series with a bestie is a no brainer when it comes to getting over a breakup or a bad job interview. But research shows that when you’re hanging out with a friend can actually decrease your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol that happens in response to being rejected.

2. They can help you survive the tough times

There’s no doubt that having a hand to hold during the darkest periods of your life can help immeasurably. In fact, a study has shown that having a friend around during crappy events can significantly buffer the negativity of the experience and increase your self worth.

3. They can extend your life

Yep, you and your BFFS will be wreaking havoc around the retirement village if you stay tight. Research has found that people who have strong social relationships are less likely to die prematurely. In fact, cancel that spin class and book in a catch up – according to a 2010 review of research having good mates is twice as effective as exercise and quitting smoking when it comes to extending your life.

4. They can make you more productive at work

It sounds counterintuitive but having mates in the office can actually make you work harder. Research shows that close work friendships increase job satisfaction by 50 percent and people with a “work wife” are seven times more likely to fully engage in their work.  

5. They can make you fitter

Another reason to catch up ASAP? A number of studies have found that exercising with a buddy can encourage you to work out harder and more frequently, through both inspiration and competition. But instead of being a slave driver, some research suggests that emotional support and encouragement from a fit friend is more beneficial than “practical support” like never missing a session. 

6. They can improve your mental health

Research has found that people with higher-quality, close friendships at the age of 15 have a decreased symptoms of depression and an increased sense of self-worth by the time they reached 25. 

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