Is the song stuck in your head now that you’ve read the title?
Though a fun song performed by the Beatles, the lyrics actually point to a great truth for us as we look to make positive changes in our health journeys.
Surrounding ourselves with people who are also committed to their health journeys-be it friends, family members, accountability partners, coaches, trainers-can be a huge source of support and encouragement as we seek to create and sustain healthy habits.
Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD, studies the effects of social networks, or groups of connections between people, on the members within those networks. He states that the connection to others is necessary for the spread of beneficial things like health-promoting behaviors. When we are connected to others, we affect them and they affect us, and this has been shown through various research studies led by Christakis and his colleague, James Fowler, PhD.1
Think about a time you may have been surrounded by a community and the benefits this brought to your life.
Perhaps it was a sports team working toward a winning season, a team of work colleagues accomplishing a big project, or a group of girlfriends just enjoying life together. When we do things together, we multiply the work we can get done, and we enjoy the satisfaction of helping and encouraging others, all while receiving help and encouragement from them. In another study by Christakis and Fowler, they discovered that even helpful or kind behaviors and emotions can spread across social networks. Something done or felt by one person, like an act of kindness or the emotion of happiness, can affect not only those directly connected to them, but also those indirectly connected to them, essentially multiplying the acts of kindness or feelings of happiness as they spread across the network of people. This helps show that being connected in a community can cause a return on investment in things like cooperation as we benefit from our connections with each other.2
If you don’t have people around you yet who can encourage and inspire you on your health journey, what would it take to start building that community? Is there someone you can reach out to, a group or class you can join? Perhaps you’d like to talk through building healthy habits and staying motivated with one of our wellness coaches? They can remind you of the strengths you have to accomplish the goals you’ve set out for yourself, cheering you on along the way.
If you don’t have people around you yet who can encourage and inspire you on your health journey, what would it take to start building that community?
When you think about your health, how can you start the process of getting a little help from your friends? Here are some ideas as you think about building your own healthy community:
- Check out a group fitness class at your local gym. Going on the same days at the same times will give you a chance to get to know the instructor and other members of the class
- Check out meetup.com to find active groups that already exist in your area
- Start working with one of our Wellness Coaches
- Join a supportive Facebook group like Girls Gone Strong
- Follow inspiring fitness professionals on Instagram, like toneitup or amdiomethod
Written by Brittni Paris, SFC Blogger
1 Christakis, NA (2015,). Health and social networks [Lecture 17]. Sociology 126 course at Yale. Lecture retrieved from http://nicholaschristakis.net/teaching/sociology-126/current-podcasts/
2 JH Fowler and NA Christakis. “Cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks.” PNAS: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 2010: 107: 5334-5338. Retrieved from http://nicholaschristakis.net/teaching/sociology-126/current-podcasts/, Lecture 17: Health and Social Networks