Good friends are great for your health

Relaxation and time out are fundamental ingredients for a successful Fitness Makeover. Not that we need any reasons to hang out with our favourite people in the world but sometimes we get so caught up with our lives that we forget to stay in touch. We really ought to make a point to never sacrifice time with our friends in favour of other pursuits.

Science offers the theory that we are not so much what we eat but who we eat with… meaning that if you are on a journey to reshape your body you might get a higher chance of success if you hang out with friends who are already lean and have succeeded at their Fitness Makeover projects. They will be able to inspire you and help you avoid common pitfalls, plus they will effortlessly set an example for how to make the best choices to support your goals.

In Italy we have a proverb that says “She who finds a friend, finds a treasure” – here are some reasons why I believe this to be true:

Good friends will lift you up with the rising tide

Ever started up on a Fitness Makeover project on your own and noticed your initial motivation waning as the days go by until it’s all but a distant memory? Well a good friend will hold you accountable to your declared goals and will show up on time on exercise days to make sure you don’t skip any. Let’s face it: going out for a walk with a friend is more fun than going on your own. Introspection time is also great for you and shouldn’t be discarded altogether as we do need some time alone to recharge our emotional batteries. But have you noticed how 20 minutes of intense exercise feel like 2 minutes when you are with a good friend?

I am not suggesting that you should rely entirely on your friend(s) for motivation, you must have some of that within you to begin with but isn’t it a great place to be when you can be each other’s rock and help each other celebrate every little smidgen of progress?

Good friends can increase your lifespan

Being able to offload your most troublesome thoughts with a friend or 10 is very important when we are feeling under the weather. Stress has detrimental effects on our body and being able to share and receive comfort from those in our corner can be incredibly soothing and reassuring. As humans we are meant to be naturally social and social media has brought with it the opportunity to communicate and share our thoughts with thousands of people around the world at any one time.

Although online communities can be a great place to discuss any aspect of our lives, they can also highlight the fact that at the end of the day we can be social online but still be home alone. There is no real substitute for sitting at a table with real people, the same people that have seen us at our worst whilst stumbling on the mess we left on the floor because we have been feeling under the weather. There is no Facebook chat that can be as beneficial as a hug or a shoulder rub from a trusted friend.

Research has shown that vibrant social relationships can increase your chances of survival by 50% so for goodness’ sake go out and have fun with your friends! Your lifespan depends on it! 🙂

Good friends blowing confetti together

Good friends are great for your health

There is scientific evidence that strong social relationship can significantly help us improve our health. A study conducted on 86 women suffering from metastatic breast cancer showed that those who received emotional support lived twice as long as those who didn’t. Another study revealed that patients at risk of Chronic Heart Disease who had strong social relationships benefited from lower blood pressure and therefore a healthier heart. Not to mention that the relaxation brought about by spending time laughing with friends can help lower cortisol levels and therefore ensure the immune system is working at full strength.

Want to take relaxation to the next level? Why not visit your local spa for a day of meditation and relaxation? There are so many different ways in which you can share a very special mental space with your friends: chanting, gong baths, traditional yoga classes and even my new favourite Strala Yoga which I had the pleasure of trying out for the first time in May 2016. It’s a really great way of exploring movement and flow without experiencing some of the pain and discomfort that holding yoga poses for any length of time can bring about if you are flexibly challenged like me.
Good friends help you stay young (I wouldn’t call it regressing…)

Good friends gossipingIf your present sucks it’s good to get together with friends to reminisce the past. This is what happens every single time I go to Italy to visit my family and meet up with friends from my (not totally misspent) youth. A positive mindset is vital when you are instigating changes to your lifestyle in order to achieve the body of your dreams. Sometimes when life keeps throwing you lemons it’s really difficult to stay positive and keep on moving forwards.

So why not take a step back for a day and revisit the past with your closest friends? Laughing and reminiscing always has a wonderful effect on me. Suddenly I feel uplifted again and ready to tackle whatever shit life decides to throw my way with renewed zest. It’s a bit like when athletes take a step backward to launch themselves forward more effectively.

Good friends come in all shapes and sizes

Don’t have enough good quality human company? Let’s not forget our four legged friends. They might not be able to hold a proper conversation with us but they always seem to find new ways of bringing a smile to our face. PLUS you never have to doubt whether or not they meant that friendly gesture. They did. That’s why they are ace.

Good friends trick you into moving when you don’t feel like exercising

Good friends soaking feet togetherHave you ever woken up in the middle of your Fitness Makeover project and felt sick at the prospect of doing structured exercise? Me too. That’s when your friends come to the rescue: a night out clubbing, playing ten pin bowling, visiting an art gallery, browsing the local food fayre or exploring your nearest Mind & Body festival are all excellent ways to keep on moving when you don’t feel like exercising. Regular movement is actually more important than structured exercise both for your health and your weight loss ambitions so embrace your friends’ suggestions and go out for a boogie and a laugh.

I am sure you can probably figure out many more reasons why friends are good for you depending on your unique circumstances. If nothing else, please let this post serve as a reminder to pick up the phone and reach out to “that” friend that you haven’t heard from in a very long time. Liking each other’s posts on Facebook doesn’t count.

So, what did I miss out? In which other ways are friends good for your health? Let me know in the comments below!

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