If you’re on a mission to be healthy in all aspects of your life, look beyond the natural foods section and the latest fitness fads, and look to your friends.
Our friends influence our health—a lot. A recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine found those with friends who practiced unhealthy habits were 60 percent more likely to gain weight than people who kept healthy company.
If we want to learn how to be healthy with our physical bodies, we have to learn how to be healthy through the full scope of our lifestyle habits, including those surrounding us.
You’ve probably heard the idea that we were designed to live in community, but this isn’t just a feel-good, woo-hoo idea. Community is actually a physical need as much as a psychological need.
Scientific research, like this article of the journal Frontiers in Public Health, consistently reveals correlations between our social relationships and our health. We are wired to thrive through connection. It satisfies our neurologically-programmed need for safety, belonging and meaning:
- Strong connections may extend our lives. An Australian study revealed seniors with a strong social circle were 22 percent more likely to live longer than their less social peers.
- Working out with friends helps us stay motivated.
- Engaging friendships boost brain health, according to this Harvard study.
So, how do we make time to connect amidst the eight-to-five grind? How do we learn how to be healthy with our connections when it’s hard to even find time for ourselves?
Lifestyle shifts don’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some simple ways to start:
- Reflect. Are you happy with your friendships? What do you want more in your close relationships? Are there any connections you want to let go?
- Share meals—and make them healthy. Enjoying meals in a relaxed state is far better than quickly eating food in front of a computer. When we eat in a “happy space,” we more fully absorb nutrients and digest with ease, which decreases gut inflammation.
- Make workouts social. Sometimes we need a solo run to blow off steam, but social workouts can be motivating and provide catch up time with friends — hello, efficiency! Leaving a workout physically refreshed and emotionally uplifted is a win-win that helps us “stick with it” and boost results. And, friends can keep you accountable so you’re less likely to cancel last minute.
Fitness studios are also a great place to grow healthy friendships. It’s not only about working out or doing a class with people, but it’s about cultivating and maintaining those motivating, inspiring friendships. This happens when we frequent the same fitness studios over time.
The great thing about frequenting multiple fitness studios regularly is that we give ourselves the chance to build these relationships and still vary our workout routine.
This is exactly why we started OurStrongCircle—to give women and men the chance to thrive through community in a more practical way.
Healthy habits may take time to build, but they’re more fun together. Plus, adding variety will help you stick to them.
Learn more and get plugged into a community you love so you can thrive, at OurStrongCircle.