So much is written about women and their friendships that the whole topic arguably has become something of a cliché. On the other hand, there is very little discussion about the real importance of friendship in the lives of men. At best, humorous pieces appear from time-to-time about the so-called “bromance.”
In reality, research is beginning to demonstrate that friendship is important in improving the overall health of men, according to research reported in Men’s Health magazine.
A Major Male Health Problem: Obesity
More than 33 percent of the U.S. population is classified as obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 79 million Americans are obese, and of this number about 38 million are men.
One men’s health issue that research indicates is helped through friendship is preventing and combating obesity. There are a number of reasons why this appears to be the case. First and foremost, men with a solid network of friends are more active. Yes, they may go out for brews and pizza; however, they also tend to engage in more recreational activities, including working out at the gym and participating in sports.
Loneliness and Male Health
Researchers are also reporting that loneliness is as dangerous to a person’s health as smoking or obesity. These studies specifically indicate that loneliness is akin to smoking 15 cigarettes daily. The damage caused by loneliness to a man’s health is comparable to that associated with alcoholism. Data reveals that people lacking in solid friendships tend to die younger than those with these types of relationships. This holds true as much for men as it does for women.
Friendship and Uniquely Male Health Maladies
There do exist certain health problems that are unique to men. These include BPH and erectile dysfunction. Studies have shown that men with friends are better able to combat and address these uniquely male health problems. They have a better chance for recovery, not only with appropriate medical intervention but with supportive friends during the treatment process.
Male Friendships and Brain Health
Although the most important organ in the body in so many ways, the brain also tends to be the most overlooked. A great deal is written about heart health, lung health and even foot health; however, very little is written about maintaining a healthy brain.
Another research study revealed that men with a strong network of friends remain more mentally acute as they age than individuals without this type of social support. There is even some evidence to suggest that male friendships work to stave off – or at least delay – some of the more significant effects of dementia.
Friends and Longevity
A comprehensive Australian study examined friendship, including among males, and longevity. The study extended for a period to 10 years. The research revealed that of the older members of the cohort, those with a larger circle of friends experienced a death rate 22 percent lower than those lacking such a supportive group during the course of the study’s term.
Of course, male friendships are not some sort of panacea. A man must still take his health seriously and be proactive in engaging in healthy living practices, including taking advantage of preventative health care. Nonetheless, research studies continue to affirm that men with friends live a healthier, longer life.