Your friends reveal more about your health than your fitness tracker

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Fitness trackers are the most common way to stay on top of your physical activity, but a new study shows that your friends may play a bigger role in your health than your beloved FitBit.

The company we keep influences how we live, and peer pressure isn’t just for teens. A recent study published in the PLOS One reveals that social attitudes and behaviors in social groups impact members’ own conduct. This means that your friends’ lives have a much stronger influence on your own than you may think.

Social influence on health

\Friends inspire us, encourage us and support us through all of life’s stages. They may be our gym buddy in January, when we vow that this is the year we’ll get in shape and stay there, and be the first to come over and eat take-out on a Friday night after the New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned.

Friends wouldn’t be friends if they didn’t impact our lives. What’s most interesting, the study reveals, is the subtle way our social circle’s happiness, positive attitudes and lifestyle choices influence ours.

The lead author of the study, Nitesh V. Chawla, says that the group of researchers wanted to explore how people’s position among their friend groups influenced their health. Chawla says that the study revealed a “significant improvement in predictability of wellness states” among individuals who were involved in active social groups over those who just wore a fitness tracker.

What makes Fitbit work?

Some of us may feel motivated to exercise more just by knowing there’s something tracking our progress. But often, many people put on a fitness tracker and forget it’s even there. After a few good weeks of counting steps and monitoring sleep, old habits return. Without a significant lifestyle change, a Fitbit is nothing more than a piece of technology that you’re free to ignore.

The study shows that being a part of a positive social network encourages people to live healthier lives. The participants were all given Fitbits to track their physical activity, heart rates and sleep patterns, then completed self-report questionaries about their happiness, positivity and stress levels.

The research revealed that a meaningful, positive social network greatly increased the ability to predict an improvement in personal happiness, physical activity and feeling successful.

Fitness is more than just exercise

Living a healthy life means taking in the big picture, which includes your social circle. Keeping good people in our lives influences us to be the best versions of ourselves. If you want to commit to a healthier lifestyle, try calling up your friend and asking them to join you on your next jog.

You may even want to get connected with a fitness group on MeetUp or join a gym. Doing so could help you get in touch with people whose optimism and energy makes you excited about your own fitness journey.