Ornish Living: Feel better, love better


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In the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, the simple choices that we make in our lives each day—what we eat, how we respond to stress, how much we exercise and the quality of our relationships—have been proven to make a powerful difference in our health, our well-being, and our survival. These four equally weighted lifestyle elements of the Ornish lifestyle work together to provide maximum benefits. The combinations of fitness and stress management, and fitness and nutrition are often better understood.  However, sharing workouts with friends or incorporate fitness into our social interactions helps to maximize the benefits.

Social connections make the act of exercising a more dynamic, meaningful action.

When it comes to exercise, everyone has his or her own routines, likes and dislikes. In the Ornish program, making exercise a social event is a big learning opportunity. A large part of Dr. Ornish’s research focuses on the importance of social connection and our human need and desire to relate with others. Ultimately, a few of the most common fitness myths that many people believe and even hear from their trainers.

Here’s why:


Exercise with others can help enhance commitment. Everyone who has put on a pair of sneakers to exercise has experienced the ups and downs of committing to a regular schedule. When we exercise either in a group or with a partner, we develop a bond and commitment that is shared among the participants. We develop concern and care for one another so that we support each other during both good and bad times. This combination of fitness and social support develops into its own exercise support group, which is one of the four pillars of the Ornish program.

Sharing Ideas

When we exercise alone we often become stuck in the same exercise routine, which can result in boredom, frustration and lack of results. When we exercise with others, it becomes an ideal time to share ideas, trade exercises and explore what fitness routines work for others. Sometimes this sharing helps us to move outside of our comfort zone. One easy way to do this might be to follow another program or incorporate your partners’ exercise routine into your own. This infusion of new exercise will often challenge your body and keep your mine more engaged in fitness.

Share a Challenge

Most people respond well to a challenge and what better area to make this happen than exercise. When you have a partner or exercise in a group, the challenge to perform is naturally there. The presence of others during exercise will help you do more or go longer than you would alone, and the shared encouragement will go a long way to help you stay consistent and get results. You can share this challenge back and forth during various workouts and even inviting new people to add to your menu of exercises as you go.

Shared Support

A large part of social connection is support and this shouldn’t stop when we enter the gym. Supporting one another through our fitness journey is critical during both good and bad times. A primary example of this can come when someone is injured or hasn’t been to the gym in a while. Reaching out with encouragement and support is extremely powerful. It can make the difference in a week or two away from the gym. Just knowing that others have thought of you can often spur you back into action after a setback, and you can do the same for them when needed.

This two-way street of commitment, sharing, challenge and support will enhance your social network, improve your connection with others and enhance your fitness. Social connections makes exercise become a more dynamic, meaningful action than just pumping iron or running miles. If we welcome others into our fitness routine, we will reap the benefits both physically and psychosocially.

How do you benefit from incorporating fitness into our social interactions?


Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

Better Health Begins With You...

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