Remember the Bette Midler song, “You’ve Got To Have Friends?” I am certain she had no idea that the sentiment would ring true for exercising and weight reduction. But it does! In the Fitness Journal, published February 2012, it was reported that multiple studies confirm your friends and family, who are committed to a healthy lifestyle, will help your own sticktuitiveness. Dieters can lose more weight and exercisers are more motivated when paired with willing partners.
The phenomenon is called social modeling. In other words, it’s our proclivity to copy those around us that keeps us on track. Friends and family shape our thoughts, emotions, habits and our physical bodies. If you are a mom who is active and fit, it is likely that your children (and spouse), will model your behavior. Watching the philosophy in action has been remarkable. Just this past weekend my eldest daughter decided it was time for a new bike. She is determined to begin riding to her classes at CSULB, as well as to her job in Sunset Beach. The behavior was not prodded or discussed it was just a natural progression of the healthy lifestyle modeled in our household. I couldn’t be more proud. My youngest daughter has been a 24-hour fitness member, for the past two years.
EDELMAN HEALTH BAROMETER
The global Edelman Health Barometer survey, (2011) documented the following in their social nature of health influence study:
1. Forty-three percent of those surveyed said friends/family have the most impact on personal health lifestyle.
2. Thirty-six percent said that close social ties have the most impact on personal nutrition.
3. About two-thirds said they had tried to change a negative health behavior, but half failed to sustain the change, citing a lack of ongoing social support as one contributor.
On the other end of the spectrum a Framingham Heart Study conducted over 32 years indicated that a person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57% if a friend became obese. Depending on the type of friendship, mutual friends risk of obesity increased by a 171%. Gender was also a factor, where the probability of obesity increased by 71% if all friends were the same sex. With an all male group the results were 100% while for gal pals the chances were 38%.
FRIEND FOOD GLUE
The desire to mimic those around you tends to enhance bonding and acts as a social super glue. When we copy each other’s eating habits we form positive subconscious bonds. It is about what others do rather than what they think. The number of diners influence individual eating habits too. If two people dine together they will each eat about 35% more than if they dine alone. If more than seven people break bread they will consume 96% more than eating alone. There is also a tableside “pacesetter” who unknowingly sets the standard for how much is eating and how fast.
Group cohesion, social interaction and positive reinforcement are strong motivators to starting and maintaining an exercise regimen. Friends and family influence each other’s exercise habits, but only if the perceived support is strong. Women who perceived themselves as receiving medium to high amounts of exercise social support spent more time working out. For men, it is the perceived social advocacy of sports activities that keeps them involved. Ultimately for all groups it is the positive encouragement that allows people to remain motivated for physical activities and maintain healthy eating habits.
JUST DO IT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Finding likeminded pals and/or encouraging your children and spouse to participate in your exercise and good for you eating plan, is not only fun, but also an important aspect of your overall health regimen.
As a healthy living expert in Long Beach, California I am proposing a challenge to all the Women on Bike SoCal readers, because we are all about walking too! Beginning Saturday July 7, 2012, I will hold a free weekly walking workout program every Saturday leading up to the ProWalk ProBike Conference (September 10th through 13th) 9am starting out at Marine Stadium Park. Those interested can sign up on the contact page of my website www.kerrizane.com.