Friends really are good for you!

We all know that eating well and taking more exercise are sure-fire ways to improve our health, but now experts have confirmed that kicking back with close friends and family is even better.

In fact, psychologists now reckon that belonging to a wide social circle or maintaining a happy family life could increase your survival rates by as much as 50%!

While recent studies have suggested that loneliness could do as much harm to our well-being as heavy drinking or smoking 15 cigarettes a day, it seems spending time with our loved ones can battle isolation, combat stress and steer us away from risky lifestyle choices.

Says psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad, "We take relationships for granted as humans. That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health."

And it's not just friends or family that count - even good relations with your neighbours can boost your health. So next time you bump into next door putting out their bins, be sure to smile...

For more on this story, head for: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/27/friendship-relationships-good-health-study

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