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See Inside April/May 2006

Good Friends

Want to live longer? Diet and exercise will get you only so far

HERE IS ANOTHER REASON to call your old buddy to catch up: new findings show that it is not just fun or socially enriching to maintain solid relationships with close friends—it also helps you stay healthier and may extend your life span.

Psychologists have long known that having a set of cherished companions is crucial to mental well-being. In addition, a recent study by Australian investigators Lynne Giles, Gary Andrews and Mary Luszcz of Flinders University and Gary Glonek of the University of Adelaide concluded that our chums even help to prolong our lives. The scientists analyzed data from a decade-long survey called the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging, which was initiated in 1992. It concentrated on the social environment, general health, lifestyle and age of death of 1,477 persons older than 70 years. Study participants were asked how much personal and telephone contact they had with friends, children, relatives and acquaintances.

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