Are You Contagious? More than Bad Habits Rub Off!

I was recently accused of  spreading fitness among my friends.  About this time last year, I was checking out Fitbits online and in stores, and I ended up buying one (a Zip) when my friend J and I were out running some errands.  She wasn’t the least bit interested in my little gadget, as she called it.

I took my little Zip home, set it up and began tracking steps all over the place (at least I thought I was- googly face!).  By September, I was wishing I had spent the money to get the One, so I upgraded and switched off using the trackers. While the One was charging, I was using the Zip and while I was waiting for batteries from Amazon (whole other story there! Grr!), I was wearing the One.  Come Christmas, my sister gifted me with a Fitbit Charge HR, so my Zip was pretty much superfluous, which wasn’t a bad thing as it turns out.

My friend J had taken a short trip that fall to visit an old friend, who had also just gotten a Charge HR for his wife, which ended up cluing her doctor in on one of those health issues that rarely get diagnosed until things get ugly.  Since the “HR” stands for “heart rate,” she noticed that there were times when her heart rate was extremely low which coincided with her feeling awful.  She’d talked to her doctor about the issue, but he couldn’t find anything wrong (typical!), so she brought her Fitbit to the doctor (Homer Simpson head slap here!). Yeah- there’s something wrong all right!!

J recognized that I had a similar device and after listening to me talk about counting steps along with eating healthier and exercising regularly, she was actually interested in getting one.  Her doctor sent her to a health coach for a few sessions since she was starting a new medication and her doctor was hoping to nip some potential problems in the bud, so she asked if she could “borrow” my Zip. I showed her how to use it and set it up and she fell in love with the little guy! Just doing her regular routine, she puts my step count to shame, but it encourages her to do a little more (she’s already logging 12,000+ on most days!! Ack!) It turns out that another mutual friend D has also been paying attention to J’s little Zip and went out and bought one for herself! J laughed when she told me that I’d “sold another one!” and I realized that as hokey as it sounds to “set a good example,” our habits really are contagious.

I’d noticed after I started making more food changes, eating more vegetables instead of simple carbs like rice or pasta, my mom started “copying” me. We’d got out for Japanese and I’d ask for extra salad instead of the rice or we’d go to a steakhouse and I’d order the vegetables instead of the pilaf. I’ve noticed some other positive changes in some of my other friends, choosing to focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t, and I’ve noticed their influence on me, getting me to exercise on a regular basis (finally! eye roll) and be more active, make better choices.  Health is contagious, whether it’s good or bad, and it’s easier to do something we’ve seen other people do.  It’s how we learn to try new things, and I think by not trying to eagerly convert others to our new habits, we draw others in just by being a happier healthier version of ourselves.  We make a great commercial that way and we don’t run up against the instant wall of resistance to change.  I had no idea my friend was so interested in my little Zip until she asked to borrow it.  I’d just talked about it in passing along with everything else in my life, and little did I know that what I had was so contagious!


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