Service of Friendships–Better than Drugs or Anti-Aging Remedies

November 25th, 2019

Categories: Friends, Friendship, Health, Stress


I’ve written about office friends and those whose names you don’t even know; buddies as good company, splitting the check, hugging and protecting them. Tara Parker-Pope wrote about friendship from a different perspective in her New York Times article “How to be a Better Friend.”

She reported results of research that showed that students in pairs estimated the slope of a hill they were expected to climb to be far less onerous than those who were alone. Another study supported “the notion that social support helps us cope with stress.” Friends in a room made the heart rate of women faced with solving a math problem go much slower than those approaching the task alone.


Parker-Pope claimed that friendships, more than romantic partners, positively impact health. Here’s one of three studies she chose to illustrate the point: “In a six-year study of 736 middle-age Swedish men, being attached to a life partner didn’t affect the risk of heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease, but having friendships did. Among risk factors for cardiovascular health, lacking social support was as bad as smoking.”

She wrote that “proximity was not a factor in the benefits of friendship” though its obvious that local friends can run errands and help in other ways if necessary. People with friends get fewer colds which might be related to experiencing less stress.

The effect of peer pressure can be good or bad. Some participate in exercise routines and other healthy activities with their buddies while others may gain weight together. If a person did the latter, a 2007 study showed that there was an almost 60 percent risk that their friends would too.


In Japan, Parker-Pope wrote, “people form a kind of social network called a moai — a group of five friends who offer social, logistic, emotional and even financial support for a lifetime.” Women in Okinawa, Parker-Pope reported, have an average life expectancy of 90–the longest in the world.

Dan Buettner, a National Geographic fellow and author who studies health habits of people who live longest told Parker-Pope “Your group of friends are better than any drug or anti-aging supplement, and will do more for you than just about anything.”

The title of Parker-Pope’s article–“How to be a Better Friend”–didn’t match the information in it. Just being a friend is what counts. As I am blessed with life-saving friends I can vouch for how their support is an effective passport to joy and an antidote to stress and anxiety. Who knew there might also be health benefits?



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10 Responses to “Service of Friendships–Better than Drugs or Anti-Aging Remedies”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    I am blessed to have found you as a friend. All through the years we have kept in touch. The rest of the office as well. I’m so glad that you are there and that you have overcome some of life‘s difficult moments. Bless you and thank you. Yours, Hank.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Back at you, Hank. It is I who appreciates your friendship. We are both lucky and blessed! Not sure about overcoming anything. The trick so far has been to put one foot in front of the other and to watch where I’m going. Guiding and rooting for me are my friends.

    And the thermometer you bequeathed me still chugs along, confirming that there is good reason for my goose bumps! [Currently 67 degrees, but the AC isn’t on yet!]

  3. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie wrote on Facebook: Makes sense since “wellness” starts between your ears. The love & support of friends is good for what ails you.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    For friendship to work there must be happy moments–like visits to the beach, museums, movies, parties, concerts and the like–sprinkled in between hand-holding and encouragement. You know the formula better than most.

  5. Tom Stier Said:

    Tom wrote on Facebook: I believe it. Emotional and physical wellness can certainly be enhanced by good friendships. Just think of how far a kind word from a stranger goes.

  6. jmbyington Said:


    So true! It’s fun to put a smile on another person’s face. And a surprisingly fun conversation with a stranger while waiting for a bus not only appears to shorten the wait it cheers me up!

  7. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    I have the most amazing friends. Wonderful, smart, funny women that I fact I had a party just to show them how much I love them and here’s the poem that was the invitation:
    Friendship is like a flower.
    First you must plant the seed.
    Water it with your affection.
    Let it bask in the rays of your love.
    Watch how it grows.
    See it flourish.
    What once was a seed’s now a rose.

  8. Martha Takayama Said:

    I think that Helen sums up all the salient points of friendship. I am thankful for all the love , support, wisdom of all my friends over the years. My finding and renewing my friendship with you, Jeanne has been one of my special ties. I thank for all these wonderful personal binds today and always.❤️👋🥘👏

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Wonderful poem! Thank you for posting it.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Here’s to Helen and to you!

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