Heart health 2Today, Valentine’s Day, is full of the signs of love. I’ve gotten several hugs and “I love you’s” from my daughter (a teenager – how fortunate am I?!); my husband returned home from a business trip in inclement weather, in time to share a romantic evening; my Facebook page has countless hugs and loving messages from friends near and far; and, I received real paper Valentine cards, old school style.

But the best healthy Valentine gift I got was that my husband went for a check-up with his doctor, my daughter ate a great big breakfast before she went to school, and I got thousands of steps registered on my Fitbit (and Walgreens Steps with Balance bonus points by doing so). We DIY health in this family, every day, and doing so is as big an “I Love You” as any Hallmark card can say.

ConnectedThere is a strong, direct relationship between our individual health behaviors and those of the people close to us — and even in rings around our social networks two, three and more degrees of separation away from us. This has been documented in reams of research, and most especially in Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler’s insights published in their book, Connected. Our behavior influences the health of those closest to us…and even those who are friends of friends of friends, Christakis and Fowler found.

So today and ongoing, remember that what you do for or against your health influences those around you. The best Valentine you can give someone else are your own healthy choices. Remember: health is where we live, work, play and pray. It’s not in the doctor’s office.