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How Active Friends Can Help You Lose Weight

Social Dieting: The Best Way to Slim

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Self here on FitSugar!

This just in! Mice who socialize with their "friends" in an active environment are slimmer and have flatter bellies than their lonely, lazy counterparts. So can humans learn a thing or two from sexy, skinny rodents?

To find out how being more "socially active" can help you shed pounds, we spoke to Tom Holland, owner of Tom Holland's Athletic Club in New Canaan, CT, and author of Beat the Gym: Personal Trainer Secrets Without the Personal Trainer Price Tag.

HealthySELF: The study from researcher Matthew During, a professor of neuroscience at Ohio State University Medical Center, found that mice given cages with running wheels, mazes, toys and unlimited high-fat food and water — along with 15 to 20 cagemates — saw some of their white fat cells, which store energy, take on characteristics of brown fat, which burns calories. They lost 50 percent more of their abdominal fat and gained 29 percent less weight than the control mice.


When mice were given just running wheels but no pals to play with, they didn't lose as much weight as the control mice, which seems to be very telling. Obviously, humans are not mice. But could this be evidence that being more social can help people lose weight?

Holland: It very well could be. Much of the exercise-based research begins with mice, and strong connections with humans have been found over the years. I believe a big component in all this may be the connection between social ties and depression. The less "connected" people are, the more prone to depression they become, which can lead to overeating and lack of exercise. A 2009 study by the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center showed that staying busy and having a sense of purpose helps people live longer.

Find out more about how being social helps you shed pounds after the break.

HealthySELF: How important is staying physically active in losing weight, especially in a social context?

Holland: Extremely important. When a person is "socially active," they are more likely to be physically active on a consistent basis. There is enormous power in numbers. Researchers have found that one of the keys to longevity is social interactions. If you want to live long, isolation does not work. You will move more around other people. Widen your social circle to help stay active, motivated and lessen your stress levels.

HealthySELF: How can we find some new "socially active" friends?

Find a group that gets you "out" on a consistent basis, like walking club, dance class or sign up for some volunteer work. Volunteer work is especially powerful, since helping others makes you feel better about yourself, which makes it exponentially easier to adopt healthier eating and exercise habits.

Here are a few more ideas:

  • Get a workout partner or partners and hire a trainer.
  • Go on an annual fitness retreat, they are everywhere: Yoga, bike rides in Italy, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. You'll get stronger and make new friends.
  • Join a triathlon club or local morning boot camp.

More on the Ohio State University Medical Center study.

Related Links:
Lose 8 Pounds in 1 Week
Team Up For This Slim-Down Partner Workout
6 Ways Candy Can Fight Disease and Weight Gain

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Image Source: Thinkstock
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