Three degrees of contagion (yes, being fit is contagious)

As you may or may not know, I recently started my residency in psychiatry. This week I’ll attend a lecture about the network theory. As a total nerd, I wanted to know more about it before I even go to the lecture, so I started some reading. The network theory is just a very abstract theory that can be applied to so many things, so I started to think about it in terms of my own losing weight/getting healthy and fit journey.

network, 3 degrees of contagion

You can apply the theory to your own social network. You put yourself in the middle as a dot, and everybody you are close to is also a dot, connected to you by a line. For all those people, they’ll also have their own people they are close to, represented by a dot, connected to them by a line. If you make a graph like this, up to the third layer, there will be a lot of dots and lines, this is your social network (you can make it bigger by dotting everybody you know vs everybody who’s close to you and go up to the sixth layer, but let’s keep it simple). Ok, so statistically, it has been researched that up to the third connection (this is the ‘three degrees of contagion), your behavior can influence the other people in your network. For example, if you’re very happy, your first connections have a 15% higher change of being happy themselves, the next connection 10% and the third connection 6% (all statistically significant and free from bias).

I find this theory very interesting, especially when I think of it in weightloss terms. A lot of us (former) fatties complain about the fact that our environment is not helping us in our journey (bad food around us, inactive people/work). This is very true and can also be scientifically explained by the network theory. BUT, we can also turn it around. What if I decide that I’m going to live a very healthy and active life and be fit. This will mean that my direct surroundings will also have a higher change of living such a life. I’ve seen it happening, my 2 brothers have also started weightwatchers and my youngest brother’s fiancé too. My sister goes to the gym more often and my mom too. My collegues have started bringing healthier things and want to go on my lunch walks with me. And in a more digital world, my IG friends get inspired by me and start mealprepping or other fit stuff. I find this very inspirational and really, it helps my own journey too! Both my brothers celebrated their birthdays recently and both served healthy snacks (yay). So in other words, you create your own environment! By changing yourself, you can help others to change too (without telling them to change), and they’ll help you to stay on track. This is how we create a fool proof world for ourselves. So spread the lifestyle people!

11 thoughts on “Three degrees of contagion (yes, being fit is contagious)

  1. I’ve seen this too. My wise son commented to me, when he was age 9 that I just notice runners more because I’m a runner now! However people around me have commented that they have taken running up since I have so I think the network influence is real!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting. Do you have any posts/thoughts on loose skin after weight loss. Now that my arms are getting smaller I feel that some skin is sagging. Did you have that issue? Is there any way to get around it? I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this subject matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do have that issue, most important help is weightlifting, keeping your skin hydrated and really, if nothing else works you’ll either have to accept it or get surgery. … Personally I think weightlifting really helps with the arms! !!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting post. As I read I thought of how I credit quitting smoking to a change in jobs and my immediate circle of friends, being around people who didn’t smoke and actually thought smoking was disgusting definitely helped when I finally decided to quit. It’s amazing how our network can influence our lifestyle.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Weekly Wrap-up: Snow and Anxiety | At The Well

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