Your vibe and your tribe affect your health

Have your ever heard the expression, “your vibe attracts your tribe?”

And what might this have to do with your heart health?

If your current personal “vibe” is a donut-munching, soda-drinking, spend the weekend on the couch sort of person, chances are that the people you choose to spend time with have similar inclinations. However, what if you decide that is not the lifestyle you want for yourself?

Research suggests that our social circle can greatly influence our health behaviors. If your “tribe” is health-oriented, that works in your favor: it’s easier to make healthier choices and lead a more active life.

Unfortunately, negative influences impact our health behaviors, too. If your tribe’s idea of a good time regularly involves a case of beer and a few pizzas, it’s difficult to make a healthier choice. In fact, one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that a person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57 percent if he or she had a friend who had become obese.

What if you want (or need) to change your “vibe” for the healthier? You don’t want to ditch all your friends and family, but chances are that some of those folks are looking to make some changes too. Ask who wants to join you!

No need to get all righteous, but quietly bring the healthier snacks to the next party. Try some new recipes at family gatherings. Suggest restaurants with more healthy options, or try a new ethnic restaurant together. Carry a bottle of water with you and sip on it often — you’ll be surprised what a powerful cue that is for those around you to drink more water, too.

What about being active? Do your friends or family prefer watching sports on TV to playing sports themselves? Going to the movies instead of moving their bodies?

Suggest getting out for some fun. Sledding, disc golf, geocaching, or a short hike might get your tribe interested in other active adventures. Ask a friend to join you in a new class at the gym, or invite a coworker to take a quick walk at lunch.

If your tribe won’t join you, are they at least being supportive? You may need to find other peer support to help reach your goals. You could try places like weight-management groups, exercise classes, or even online groups that support and encourage members with similar goals.

Finally, recognize that you can be the change. You can be the positive presence at work, among your friends, and for your family. Over time, you will likely find yourself with a bigger, healthier, and happier tribe.

Chautauqua County has high rates of both heart attack and stroke, but an estimated 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable. CHQ250 is an initiative of the Chautauqua Health Action Team(CHAT), encouraging you to take action to be one of at least 250 strokes, heart attacks, or related deaths prevented in Chautauqua County in the coming year. This column is written by CHAT members to share information to help you to do your part to live a life free of stroke or heart disease; it is not intended to replace advice provided by your healthcare team. Please direct questions or comments to: