&noscript=1""/>
Healthy Lifestyle

Sources of Support for Healthy Living

Sources of Support for Healthy Living
Author
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

A support network can be an important part of the overall strategy to lose weight and make other healthy choices to lower diabetes risk if you have prediabetes. Family members and close friends who are willing to be in your corner are obvious choices for support, and so are health professionals such as your doctor or nurse.

There are many more sources of support to include to strengthen your system and make it as multi-dimensional as possible. With some effort, at least portions of a good support system can be present anytime you need help, and the help can range from social and logistical to professional. Here are some components of a system to consider, and how to go about finding them.

Social Circles and Your Health


Exactly how important are social circles to your health? They are quite important. What may first come to mind is the potential for friends, family members, and others to be part of your support network, as Lark DPP addressed earlier. They can encourage, educate, monitor, and sympathize with you, and offer tangible support such as helping you cook and working out with you.

But, social circles have a great deal more influence than that on your weight and, likely, along with that, on your risk for diabetes.[1] Not surprisingly, people whose spouses become obese are more likely themselves to become obese – in fact, 37% more likely. The relationship with siblings is even stronger, with a 40% chance of becoming obese if a sibling does. Strongest of all are friends: if one close friend becomes obese, the chances of becoming obese are 57% higher!

There may be several explanations.

  • Genetics may play a role in the association between siblings and their weight status.

  • Common beliefs may mean that you choose a spouse or friends who have similar beliefs and values about health behaviors as you. That is, if taking a walk at lunchtime seemed silly to you when you made a friend, that friend may have also felt that way.

  • Time you spend together is usually spent doing the same thing. You are likely to eat if your friends want to meet at a restaurant, and you are likely to

  • Peer pressure to eat similarly can mean that you order wings with dip and ribs with potatoes if your friends do, or a grilled chicken salad if they do. At home, you may be influenced by your spouse’s food preferences, healthy or otherwise.

That is a big deal when you consider that a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight gain can increase diabetes risk by 49% over 10 years, while losing a kilogram of weight can lower risk by 33% over 10 years. [2]

Given the importance of making healthy friends, these are some ways to do so.

Exercise Buddies


Exercising with other people can give you physical benefits by making you more consistent and driving up the intensity, and they can also provide social benefits. The Lark DPP check-in mentioned exercise classes, such as group fitness classes at a local gym, park, or community or recreation center. They can vary from aerobics and dancing to light weights and athletic drills. Walking groups and sports leagues also offer opportunities to get social and active.

Healthy Cooking Classes


Getting physically active is not the only way to combine socializing with healthy living. What about joining a healthy cooking class where you can meet people, make healthy food, and eat together? You may be able to find some in your area by searching online (always be careful when judging the credibility of online resources), asking your healthcare provider, or checking a local park brochure.

If nothing exists in your immediate community, it is easy enough to start small by recruiting a neighbor or two, or a couple of friends, to cook with you once a weekend as you experiment together with new healthy recipes. If that is too much to commit to, you can try swapping healthy recipes every so often and discussing how they turned out.

Healthy Hobbies


Other healthy hobbies to consider are gardening, furniture making, and line dancing. There are groups for all of these to give you a chance to chit-chat as you get active and have fun.

Volunteering can also do as much for your mind and body as it does for the recipient. Food banks, first responder organizations, pet shelters, and more are all eager for a helping hand. For a great workout, not to mention a warm fuzzy feeling, try distributing bags of food to needy families, helping at an animal shelter, or building homes for deserving individuals!

Health Education Classes


Health education classes may sound boring, but they can be anything but. Far from being like your least favorite subject in high school, they are more like classes that are designed completely for your benefit. Everything you learn can be super important in your life, literally. You may learn about healthy eating, stress reduction, getting your family on board, and different ways to lower disease risk. Gyms, parks, and healthcare providers may be good leads to find such classes.

Online Resources


The internet makes it much easier to find groups of all types. There are forums for any subject, such as weight loss, prediabetes management, and exercise tips. Support can range from chatting with everyone to choosing weight loss or similar-goal-oriented buddies to seeking in-person friends for exercise or cooking.

The Lark DPP Facebook group is an excellent resource if you are looking for people in the Lark DPP. They may have plenty in common with you, including prediabetes and goals of losing weight and increasing physical activity to be healthier. There is no tolerance for rudeness – like Lark, the group is nothing but encouraging, welcoming, and positive.

Just be careful as you search the internet and join forums. They are anonymous, and it is not wise to give out personal information or arrange to meet people unless you have a safety net. Use common sense and an abundance of caution when online.

Where Are These Healthy People?


Though they may be hard to locate at first, support is everywhere. Local parks and their recreation guides, library bulletin boards, and community centers can be good local places to start looking. Online forums and support groups, such as Lark DPP’s Facebook group, can generate ideas.

Word of mouth often yields good results. P
ersonal trainers at a gym are typically well-connected and willing to share their ideas, even if you are not planning to spend the money to use their services. Group fitness instructors may also be in-the-know. In addition, just keep talking to everyone you meet. You may be surprised at how many health-focused groups are out there, quietly being healthy and happy.