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10 Reasons You're Healthier Than You Think

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Haven't done a healthy thing all week? If you've had a latte, gossiped with pals or watched Wedding Crashers, you're in luck! The latest research shows that the simple pleasures in life, like going out for lunch, laughing and even having sex, boost your immune system. Here, these and seven other ways you're improving your health.

1. You hang out with friends two or three times a week.

Remember how thrilled you were when you found out that eating chocolate was good for you? Well, we've got more happy news: The latest research shows that the simple pleasures in life, like going out for lunch, laughing, and even having sex, boost your immune system. Here, these and seven other ways you're improving your health.

There's no need to feel guilty about indulging in a gossip-fest with your girlfriends. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego found that women with large social networks (more than six close relationships) weighed less and had lower rates of smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression than women with fewer friends. These women also reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by more than half. That's not all. In a study at the University of Wisconsin published last December, women who reported having close relationships with pals had low blood levels of interleukin-6, a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. "Strong social ties may be protective against disease, perhaps because they buffer the effects of daily stressors," explains study author Elliot Friedman, PhD, a psychologist.

Top That: Go on a girlfriend getaway, even if it's just for a weekend. Women who take at least two trips a year are less likely to be tense, depressed, or tired than those who rarely get away, according to a study by the Marshfield Clinic, a health research center in Wisconsin.

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