As we learned from Debra’s article about unplugging from technology a few weeks ago, health and wellness does not stop when you leave the gym. To ensure maximum progress in any aspect of your health, it is imperative to keep in mind that everything is connected. In fitness, we often tell our clients that when they are lifting weights, they aren’t just strengthening their muscles. They are impacting their bones, their nervous system, their circulatory system, etc.—they are all connected and it’s impossible to change one without changing several others.
Like the muscular system’s impact on several other body systems, we also must consider how a person’s psychology and sociology impact their overall health and wellbeing.
The reasoning here is simple: surround yourself with healthy friends, and you too will likely pick up some healthier habits. The research supports this idea:
- Studies performed throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s showed a clear link between social relationships and health: Those with the fewest social ties were more than twice as likely to die at an early age compared to those with the greatest number of social ties. More recent studies found that, among adults with coronary artery disease, the socially isolated had a risk of cardiac death 2.4 times greater than their more socially active peers.
- These studies, and several like them, controlled for factors such as socioeconomic class, health behaviors, and other factors, and yet the results still show the important relationship between mortality and social relationships.
Perhaps your genes do not play as large of a role in determining health outcomes as we originally thought, and maybe your social network is more important than we ever imagined!
Dr. Mark Hyman, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, has written several articles speaking on the importance of social networking as it relates to one’s overall health. He and his colleagues have performed research showing the drastic health improvements shown by people not only following a healthy exercise and nutrition plan, but those who were engaged in social networks and who used those social networks to help keep themselves accountable to their healthy lifestyle. From this experiment and his subsequent experience, Hyman suggests the following steps to help create community in your healthy journey:
1. Don’t go it alone. Enroll your community, health coach, forward-thinking doctor, or a friend to be your teammate on the journey to a healthier you…
2. Do it online. I get that not everyone likes the face-to-face interaction of groups….
3. The bottom line: Just be there for each other. Support each other.”
The message above is one of the primary reasons we decided to do the Summer Shape Up Challenge in the first place- to help create a community within Paragon to help everyone achieve the goals they’ve always thought about. Our group classes have filled up nicely and we love to see people push each other just as much as they are pushing themselves. Our private Facebook group has received good feedback and we hope people continue to use it to share ideas, thoughts, concerns, pictures, etc.
Never be afraid to reach out to a buddy, relative, health coach, Dietitian or personal trainer to help you along the way. The results will speak for themselves!