Healthy resolutions: Experts say social circles key
By Jay Keller
Every year, people resolve to change specific aspects of their personal-health routine in hopes of hitting the jackpot in the “new year, new you” sweepstakes. And, when it comes to making a list of healthy New Year’s resolutions, each choice reflects a personal commitment to achieving a personal goal.
While we also know that setting a resolution doesn’t always guarantee success, the renewed dedication will result in, among many things, a change in routine that could likely impact our social circles.
Nearly two thirds of U.S. adults who make New Year’s resolutions have set fitness goals as part of their resolution, according to a recent online study for Bodybuilding.com.
Of those surveyed, 73 percent reported quitting before meeting their individual goal. In fact, the same individuals who set fitness resolutions report giving up on them four times in the past as well.
Of the many stumbling blocks, the majority said “it’s too difficult to follow a diet or workout regimen.” Additionally, 38 percent said that it was “too hard to get back on track” once they fell off and 36 percent reported struggling to “find the time.”
What’s more is that nearly half of those who gave up before reaching their fitness resolution goal did so within six weeks or less.
But what if each individual made resolutions as part of a larger group?
It turns out that healthy, and unhealthy, behavior is contagious and communicable.
Two university professors, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, made waves during a recent media blitz for their book claiming that obesity was contagious. Christakis and Fowler claimed that if close members of your social network are overweight and out of shape, chances are you may be, too.
According to the professors, your chances of becoming obese increase significantly when one of your friends, siblings or spouse is overweight or obese.
And when it comes to creating a health-positive climate in your social circle, Fowler notes that your deliberate choices have good odds in their favor. In the context of the “three degrees of influence” rule, the average person is connected to 1,000 others.
“If you tell somebody they don’t influence anybody, they’re not going to take responsibility for their actions,” says Fowler. “But if you tell them that they influence 1,000 people, I think it changes the way they see the world.”