And then there was one. Our fifth component to health at RxFIT is “Connect.”
This factor always raises the most eyebrows. Everyone agrees that nutrition and exercise contribute to your overall health. Most agree on sleep. Mindset is what usually loses people – “What and how you think surely can’t affect your health that much,” they say. But connection? C’mon. Let’s not get touchy and feely here…
Our community means everything to me at RxFIT. Maintaining the camaraderie you feel with your coach or the connection you have with those in your group class is my most important job as the owner of the business. It means more to me than anything else that happens inside the gym. I take it that seriously. If I get a report that an athlete feels uncomfortable or offended, I’ll drop everything that I’m doing and call that person. And here’s why:
Your ability to build, sustain, and grow deep relationships is perhaps the greatest predictor of your overall health and happiness.
80+ Year Study
In 1938, Harvard scientists began a study to see if they could track the predictors of long-term health and happiness. They chose 268 students and planned to interview them at different stages throughout their lives. Many went on to become successful businessmen and doctors. Some became lawyers. Others successful newspaper editors. One even became President of the United States (John F. Kennedy).
Psychiatrist and professor, Dr. Robert Waldinger, is the director of the ongoing study today. Only a handful of the original 268 individuals are still alive (they are in their mid-nineties now). Thankfully, the researchers also began to study and interview these participant’s spouses, children, and others. The study now is tracking the lives of thousands of individuals all across the world.
“Taking care of your body is important,” says Dr. Waldinger. But “the people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”
Who would’ve thought that connection would have such a dramatic impact? Below, I’ll outline the study’s three biggest findings.
Social connections are really good for us – maybe you can agree with that. But how important are they?
This study found that social connections don’t just do the obvious of making you laugh and feel important, but they also protect us from aging. They delay mental and physical decline. Social connections also are the best predictors of long and happy lives (better than social class, IQ, or genes).
But the study also found that “loneliness kills…. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”
Would you have thought that the quality of your social interactions would increase your life expectancy? Not only will it help you live longer, but also happier.
Can You Feel The Love Tonight?
The study also regularly gathers objective data on all of its participants; things like health body fat percentage, triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
“When we gathered together everything we knew about them about at age 50, it wasn’t their middle-age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old… It was how satisfied they were in their relationships.”
Good relationships affect your habits. But another finding of the study was that close relationships with your spouse will become a protective layer against disease. Waldinger found that your marriage will quite literally mask physical and emotional pain later in life.
Protection For Our Bodies and Minds
However, good relationships don’t need to be smooth all the time.
“Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out… but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.”
The age-old adage to “love one another” has some wisdom to it. Not just to your physical health, but this study found that mental deterioration is even reduced. We need a strong support system if we want a strong mind.
“Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains.”
We’re learning more and more that strong social relationships are the greatest predictor to long-term health and happiness. I hope you build these kinds of relationships at RxFIT.
I also hope you see the importance we place on sustaining these relationships within the community. The first question we ask ourselves when making a decision is always, “How will this impact the athlete experience?”
And finally, I hope these relationships grow outside the walls of the gym and last throughout your life.
You have become my best friends. Your children are now my babysitters. My family goes on overnight trips with your family.
Let’s keep it that way. Our health depends on it.