Friends don't let friends have heart attacks. In past articles, I've preached about the importance of having social support for weight loss, meaning if you want to lose weight, you need to hang around and stay in contact with other folks who have the same goals as you.
Now researchers from the Preventative Medicine Research Institute in California, including the venerable Dr. Dean Ornish, have completed a study showing that social support groups also help heart health.
Psychol Health Med. 2008 Aug;13(4):423-37. Links Social support group attendance is related to blood pressure, health behaviours, and quality of life in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project.Schulz U, Pischke CR, Weidner G, Daubenmier J, Elliot-Eller M, Scherwitz L, Bullinger M, Ornish D. Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, USA.
The researchers studied 440 women with coronary artery disease for one year. Subjects participating in social support groups achieved significant improvements in blood pressure and health behaviors.
The researchers concluded that not only does being in the presence of a social support group help you reduce your blood pressure, but it also leads to healthier behaviors which increase your overall health.
If you are currently trying to change your health all by yourself, consider getting social support in these three ways.
First, find a nutrition buddy at work who also wants to eat better. Spend your lunches with them, rather than the "pizza gang".
Second, get a workout partner or personal trainer to keep you motivated and committed to exercise.
And third, spend time online or offline with a social support group to share experiences and solutions to the daily trials and tribulations we all have trying to stay healthy in this high-calorie world.
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS