Saturday, July 28, 2007

Your Friends Make you Fat... or Fit

There is an old saw (hey maybe it isn't bad advice) that if you want to see what your spouse will look like in a few decades, take a look at her mother. Recently the Wall Street Journal (oddly enough) wrote an article titled "Can Your Friends Make You Fat?" which was a more scholarly approach to this thought.

The article starts with a "personal" story (do all the journalists go to the same school for this) about a family that "got fat together" while their friends got fat, too. Then the article moved into a summary of an article that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine saying that social networks have a bigger impact on weight than your genetics. Per the article:

"Dr. Nicholas Christakis at Harvard medical school, lead author of the study, says the results indicate that behavioral "norms" shift depending on how people in a social circle look and act, even if they only meet once a year. "People might say, 'Look, Christakis is getting fat. It's okay for me to be obese as well." Social contacts propelled weight gains even among individuals a thousand miles apart, indicating that social proximity overrides geographic proximity."

Hopefully on this blog we are going the OTHER way. Dan of course is doing his martial arts as well as biking and other healthy things. He wasn't always this way, but every year over the last few years he has picked up more and more active habits and curbed (some) of his other habits. For me, I have definitely started an upward (health) trajectory, albeit from a rather low "base". I joined a new health club (I belong to a different one on a prepay scheme but didn't go that often... wrote it off as a sunk cost) that is near my house that I can use a lot, and go to a trainer weekly. The trainer frankly kicks my rear end, having me do exercises I would never consider on my own and focusing on core muscles. The fact that you have to "report" to a trainer every week has the salutary follow on effect of driving you to go to the health club more often; you don't want to show up the next week without having worked out 2-3 times in-between. On a recent trip my cardio capabilities were much higher than they ever were previously; I could hike up hills that would have flat-out killed me.

SO, hopefully when Dan and I meet up again at the Bears again we will start our own little social network of health. I am bringing up the rear, but it is all relative...

1 comment:

Dan from Madison said...

Good post, I will have further thoughts on this tomorrow or Monday.