Some new research out of Australia suggests that the more you hang out with active people, the more active you, yourself, will be.
The study surveyed over 3,600 women between the ages of 18 and 46 and asked them questions about healthy behaviors in the world around them. Examples include: “I see people walking in my neighborhood frequently” and “Lots of my friends eat at fast food restaurants.” By grouping the answers, they found that those who observed healthy behaviors in their environment were more likely to be healthy themselves.
In other words, healthy living is contagious and so, of course, is unhealthy living.
Have you ever heard the phrase “dress for the level of success you want to be at”? It refers to corporate America and suggests that if you want to be the boss you should start dressing like the boss until you reach that corner office. This study is basically suggesting the same approach to healthy living.
Look around you. Who among your friends is healthy? Can you hang out with them more? Who in your office always brings in salad for lunch? Can you arrange to eat once or twice a week with that person? Can you tag along with a lunchtime walking group? Put yourself in the path of healthy behaviors and you should naturally adopt healthier behaviors yourself. How cool is that?
I think a lot of us feel like we have to overcome our lifestyle to be healthy. But this study suggests you can alter your environment enough to create a lifestyle where it becomes easier and easier, where you just naturally shift to a healthy lifestyle.
I’m all for it! I have to say I’ve been dragging my family out to various athletic activities; we’ve done hiking, kayaking, indoor trampoline (very fun!), and an aborted attempted at the Couch to 5K program (but hey, we were out there until it got cold …). It’s been a bit rag tag, but it’s progressed from me dragging us out the door to my husband and son suggesting things. Now we’re onto cross-country skiing and ice skating lessons. All these nudges have been conscious on my part since last spring, but now it’s got momentum. We’ve shifted into even healthier living.
What can you do to change your environment? Do you think this study has merit? Have you seen yourself adopt new behaviors when you made a new friend or moved closer to a park?
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