I just read an article on Wired.com and NYTimes.com that mentioned “new” research showing that obesity and happiness can be tied to your social network. Researchers used the Framingham Heart Study (a famous study about diet, health and weight control) and built a model of the social connections within the group of study subjects.
By analyzing the Framingham data, Christakis and Fowler say, they have for the first time found some solid basis for a potentially powerful theory in epidemiology: that good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking. Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of your genes and your diet, it seems. Good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people.
- Athletic events… these are usually attended by people who have a focus on physical health.
- Real Estate Investment Associations… I’m a member of one in Connecticut and have found it worthwhile to be around people who want to make money in real estate.
- Churches… if your spiritual growth is important to you, church events could be for you. I would suggest ones where there is interaction between attendees so that you can make stronger connections within the group.
- Civic organizations… Toastmasters is just one example of like-minded people gathering together. Others include Lions Club (my grandfather was part of Lions for many years), Kiwanis club or others.
- Schools… I lost an incredible amount of weight when I was in graduate school and I’m sure a good amount of that was due to the fact that I was around thin, athletic people all the time. Schools or continuing education are also good places to connect with people with an interest in personal development or a particular lifestyle that interests you.
- Online groups… Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites might not offer as much interaction as face-to-face groups but they can definitely help you identify possible groups to join. Meetup.com is another great place where you can find groups online and then attend the meetings in person.