Heart-healthy lifestyles can spread through social networks

Nov. 19, 2013, Medical Xpress

Heart-healthy lifestyles can be contagious to your family and friends.

In a late-breaking clinical trial presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013, people in social networks who received an intervention to tackle their weight problems together lost an average 6½ pounds more and trimmed an extra 1¼ inches from their waists compared with those who received standard individual care. In addition to weight and waistline benefits, the social network intervention also saw 4-5 mmHg drops in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Benefits lasted beyond the 10 month program up to even six months after.

Researchers with the Randomized Trial of Social Network Lifestyle Intervention for Obesity assigned groups of 2-8 friends and family members per group into ‘microclinic’ social network clusters to attend weekly social and health activity sessions focused on physical activity, nutrition, and health education for 10 months in rural Kentucky, where medical care is limited and rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are high. Continue reading

Children’s physical activity linked with friends’ influences, research shows

May 17, 2013, Health Canal

According to a review article by researchers at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, friends are an important source of support for children’s physical activity.

The review, led by Solveig A. Cunningham, Ph.D., professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, was published in the May 16 edition of the American Journal of Public Health. It reports three ways in which friends promote children’s physical activity:

  • Kids whose friends are positive and supportive of physical activity are more active.
  • Children whose friends are physically active are also more physically active.
  • Children who are active with friends (i.e., doing sports together, walking to school, riding bikes) are more active and are active for longer periods.

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