Being friendly with your colleagues does more than help your standing when it comes to office politics; new research suggests it can help you live longer, too.
A small study published in the journal Health Psychology found that people who said they didn't have good social support at work were nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to die over a 20-year-period.
"We spend most of our waking hours at work, and we don't have much time to meet our friends during the weekdays," Dr. Sharon Toker, of Tel Aviv University, told The Telegraph. "Work should be a place where people can get necessary emotional support."
The study included 820 adults ages 25 to 65 who worked 8.8 hours a day, on average. Researchers looked at their mental and physical risk factors -- like smoking, obesity and depression -- and included people in the study who came from a diverse range of fields, like finance, manufacturing and health care, The Telegraph reported.
By the end of the study, 53 patients had died, and most of those people didn't connect well socially with their coworkers, The New York Times reported. However, it's important to note that the deaths are simply correlated with their lack of work support, not caused by it.
The idea that having friends is good for your health isn't a new one. A study published last year in the journal PLoS Medicine showed that people with a poor social connections were 50 percent more likely to die over a 7.5-year period than people with a wide social network, TIME reported.
Here are even more ways that friends keep you healthy:
Having a highly active social life can decrease Alzheimer's disease risk by a surprisingly high 70 percent, according to new findings published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. The scientists, based out of Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago had noticed a link between less-social seniors and dementia, but they weren't sure if early dementia symptoms were causing isolation or if friends actually do keep your brain healthier, TIME reports. Turns out it was the latter: "Each one-point increase on the social activity score was linked to a 47 percent drop in the rate of decline in cognitive function, the researchers found," the TIME article says.
You may have thought you grew out of peer pressure in grade school, but a recent Australian study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that our friends have a direct influence over our physical activity levels and eating habits. "These findings suggest that healthy behavior may be contagious," lead author Kylie Ball of Deakin University, Australia was quoted saying in Science Daily.
Friendly chit-chat can have the same cognitive boost as, say, solving a crossword puzzle, according to research conducted at the University of Michigan. In a recent study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the scientists found that that a simple ten-minute conversation increased performance level on a battery of mental tasks. "Taken together with earlier research, these findings highlight the connection between social intelligence and general intelligence," lead author Oscar Ybarra said in a university press release.
Gossiping with friends gets a bad rap, but that may not be totally deserved. A study from Staffordshire University recently found that when people gossip about someone in a positive way, they actually leave the conversation feeling better about themselves -- but keep it nice: mean-spirited gossip had the opposite effect. Another study from a few years ago also found that happiness begets happiness: having a friend who is happy boosts your chance of feeling the same way by more than 15 percent, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Having supportive relationships can actually postpone the aging process. A recent study from Brandeis University researchers found that a strong social network -- especially when combined with physical exercise and a feeling of control in one's life -- could delay health declines by up to ten years.
Strong relationships with friends and family can increase your odds of surviving by a whopping 50 percent, according to recent research from Brigham Young University. The scientsists in the study found that a poor social life is even more harmful to your health than not exercising and equivalent to being an alcoholic. "We take relationships for granted as humans -- we're like fish that don't notice the water," study author Timothy Smith said in a university press release. "That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health."
Talking to guy friends about sex isn't just for the locker room anymore. A recent study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences found that men aged 57 to 85 who discuss sexual problems -- such as lack of libido or impotence -- with their friends actually felt less depressed. But when these same men spoke to their doctors about the health problems they were facing, they were actually less likely to feel better.