Alert: If Your Friends Want to Go Out Boozing, You Will Probably Not Exercise


Your friends can be very persuasive. So persuasive that their enticements to “catch up” over wine and cheese or “catch a game” while consuming nutrient-based commodities like beer and chicken wings will pretty much always win out over less hilarious pursuits like “going to the gym.” To “be healthy,” then, you must have a will of steel — or friends who also insist on “being healthy.” And who wants to live like that?

According to a new working paper cited by the New York Times‘ Economix blog, you can totally blame your friends for making you fat and lazy, and why wouldn’t you? Otherwise you’d have to blame yourself, which takes far too much energy. (What with daylight savings being over and that meatball pizza we just ate, we’re sort of running on our last Duracell right now.)

Even super-fit people like those at the United States Air Force Academy from 2001 to 2005, whom the authors of the paper studied, were affected in terms of physical health by the folks they spent time with — with the greatest impact on the least fit. As the authors explained,

We find strong evidence that friends’ fitness affects own fitness as well as the probability of failing the fitness requirements…. Our findings are broadly consistent with the provocative notion that poor physical fitness spreads on a person-to-person basis.


Individuals appear to either compare their own fitness to the least fit among them, or adopt the diet and exercise of the least fit.

Which is why we feel so good about ourselves. Simply choose unhealthy friends, and you’re golden! Plus, they always have potato chips.