16/09/2010 14:20 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Cherish Your Friends: You'll Live Longer

There's a reason why you feel so great after a girl's night out or a long phone chat with your BFF. Social relationships are widely thought to be good for you in many ways. For instance, if you have lots of good friends, you're more likely to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as lower levels of stress hormones than loners.

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And now health experts have narrowed down the health benefits that come from having an active social life to a statistic we can all understand. Researchers from Brigham Young University in Utah and the University of North Carolina claim if you have lots of close friends and family, you could live almost four years longer than someone who's socially isolated.

In fact, the scientists claim the health benefits of having lots of friends and social relationships is similar to that of giving up smoking.

Apart from the obvious emotional impact of having close friends, there are lots of other reason why they keep you healthy. For instance, if you have a health problem it's your friends who may encourage you to see your GP.

A close-knit group of friends may also exercise together and inspire each other to eat more healthily. And in difficult times they can also help you realise you have something to live for.

So how much do you value your friends? Could you imagine life without them? We'd love to hear your stories.