In recent year,s there has been a significant shift in the focus Americans place on our overall health and well-being. This is a result of our failing health as a nation, as we battle an obesity epidemic, with an estimated 34% of American adults meeting the qualifications to be labeled as obese, and our risk of heart disease is at an incredible high, accounting for 1 of every 3 deaths.

In a world of fast food restaurants, microwave dinners, computer games, and Netflix marathons, it should come as no surprise that we’ve destroyed our health as a nation. Desperate to turn it around, our health and wellness industry is experiencing a considerable hike. Membership to health clubs or studios in the United States is up approximately 33.6% since 2008, and even the most ‘questionable’ fast food companies are now offering new, healthy options.

However, in the midst of all this health and wellness spending, we’ve got some good news for all the ladies. Research shows that one of the best choices you can make for your overall health doesn’t have to cost you a dime – we just need to surround ourselves with amazing friends!

The research comes down to an understanding of our hormones, and how they respond to outside stimuli. When faced with times of stress or difficulty, we experience an influx of cortisol. This has been described by some as ‘nature’s alarm system’, triggering the well-known ‘flight or fight’ response. However, elevated cortisol levels can have a negative impact on our health. They trigger the build-up of fatty tissues, increased blood pressure and a higher risk of heart attack or stroke.

When we spend time with other women and develop connections, a different hormone is triggered – oxytocin. This is a ‘feel good’ hormone, also known as the ‘love hormone’. An influx of oxytocin in our system has been associated with a number of great benefits including improved empathy and generosity, boosting our mood (helping to manage symptoms of anxiety, high stress, and depression), improved digestion, and lowered blood pressure.

The more time that you spend in the company of loved ones, the longer you will experience this all too important boost in oxytocin. Therefore, if you’re feeling down in the dumps, or highly stressed there is a simple solution – it’s time to plan a girl’s night! As if we needed an excuse to spend time with our favorite ladies… Combine this with the fact that there are studies discussing the benefits of ‘retail therapy’ and I think a ladies shopping trip just may be in order!

Sure, this isn’t going to solve all of your health concerns. It is also more important than ever to ensure that you’re getting a solid night’s sleep, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and finding time in your busy schedule for some physical activity. The key to improved health is a balance of all of the above. But we can’t discount the need to work some girl time into the mix. After all, who are we to argue with science?

Image via Uplift Connect

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