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6 Ways Your Friends Can Make You Healthier

6 Ways Your Friends Can Make You Healthier
Presented by AstraZeneca
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This content was paid for by an advertiser. It was produced by our commercial team and did not involve HuffPost editorial staff.

Did you know that friendship is actually good for your health? Studies show that friendships can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on physical and emotional well-being. Researchers have found that strong social ties can be as important to one’s overall health as getting regular exercise, not drinking in excess and abstaining from smoking.

Inspired by the vital role friendships play in our lives, we partnered with AstraZeneca to come up with simple yet effective ways that friends can work together to kick-start good habits and achieve their personal goals. Take a look and share the list with someone close to you ― then go get your healthy on!

Shop For And Chop Fruits And Veggies Together
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To get the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables into your daily diet, start by shopping for produce with a friend. Bring the groceries (or glorious farmer’s market haul) back to one of your homes. Then wash, chop and divide up between the two of you. Prepping for your week this way is not only more fun, it will give you more variety in your diet and added bang for your buck at the cash register.
Make Plans Other Than Meeting For Dinner or Drinks
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Eating is the centerpiece of socializing, isn’t it? The next time you are deciding on what to do with a friend, shy away from a meal or alcohol. Instead, choose to catch up with your pal while doing something active. Plan a chat during a hike, walk or row -- anything to get you moving. Having a friend accompany you on a walk can keep you accountable and motivated.
Use The Buddy System When Joining A Gym
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Many health clubs offer substantial discounts if you join with someone else. If you’ve been putting off buying a membership, the lower cost may be just the motivation you need to sign on the dotted line. Not only will you save money, you’ll also have someone to meet you after work to try out a new class.
Sit Down For A Proper Meal Before A Night On The Town
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Before a big night out, take a little time with friends to sit and eat a healthy meal first. By eating a small, sensible meal together before heading out, you can help slow the absorption of alcohol. Combining your dinner with plenty of water (maybe infused with berries or melon) can prevent the urge to overindulge on sweets.
Have Fun Being Active
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If the only way you know how to be active is on the treadmill, think outside the box -- or, at least, outside the gym. Call up some friends, get off the couch and play a game like ultimate frisbee, soccer or beach volleyball. Your friends aren’t into team sports? Many towns have pick-up games or clubs that are easily found online. Or, if games aren’t your thing, sign up for a local charity walk with friends to allow your footsteps to leave a charitable footprint in an important cause!
Get Each Other Motivated To Start Something New And Stick With It
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The claim that it takes 21 days to form a new habit has been debunked. Instead of fixating on how many runs or hikes it'll take for that new healthy habit to become routine try this: make a commitment to do that thing with a friend. There’s a better chance you’ll stick to your new plan if cancelling means having to call or text your friend. Also, consider using social media to share your progress and get words of encouragement from your friends.

Friends can help you kick off positive changes in your life and keep you motivated to stay active. Connecting with the people around you can also make health challenges, including type 2 diabetes, more manageable in the day-to-day. Learn more at Everyday Steps.

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