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Hanging out with healthy friends 'best way to keep fit'

December 7, 2010 - Washington

Spending time with healthy peers might be the best way to keep fit, says a new study.

"The importance of social environmental influences on health-promoting behaviours such as physical activity and healthy eating has been increasingly recognized," said Kylie Ball, from Deakin University, Australia.

Her worked with a team of researchers to survey the 18-46 year old women and found that physical activity and healthy eating behaviour were both strongly affected by social norms.

The women who took part in the study were asked to rate how much they agreed with statements like "I often see other people walking in my neighbourhood" and "Lots of women I know eat fast food often".

Those women who moved in healthier circles were in turn more likely to eat well and get more exercise.

According to Ball, "These findings suggest that healthy behavior may be contagious. The potential to modify social norms as an intervention lever for promoting increased engagement in physical activity and healthy eating is worthy of further investigation".

The study appears in International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.


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