Benefits of a Social Network (not the electronic kind)

with No Comments

social networkWhen you’re going through a tough time, you probably lean on some friends and family to support you. The same kind of support can help you stay more physically active. There are many different types of social support. All of them are important and can be provided by many different people in your life.

Instrumental Support

This includes tangible help and could include things like childcare while you’re going to the gym, providing you with fitness equipment, etc. Parents tend to provide this type of support to their children.

Informational Support

Advice and suggestions. You typically receive this type of support from health and fitness professionals. For example, a personal trainer explaining correct exercise technique to you

Companionship Support

The availability of other people that can do things with you. People that have larger social networks (not the electronic kind) for activity tend to stay more accountable. For example, if you have a great time with your weekly running group, you are more likely to go vs when you are running on your own.

benefits of social support
Click to view full infographic

Validation Support

This comes from when you can compare yourself to others in a similar situation and confirm your thoughts, feelings, struggles are “normal”. For example, if you go to a really tough bootcamp class and are very sore afterwards, checking in with other participants at the next class and seeing that they were also sore can normalize it and not make you feel alone.

 Emotional Support

Emotional support is the softer side of social support. It includes others expressing empathy, love and caring towards you. For example, if you are having a stressful week and your trainer can tell you aren’t fully present, perhaps they take it a little easier on you and let you talk through what is bothering you instead of ignoring those signs and making you push through it. On the other side, they may know you well enough and know that you need to do a gruelling workout to burn off some of the stress.

Why Does It Matter?

Research has shown that receiving social support from family members and other important figures in your life improves your attitude about being active. The type of social support you require can change based on what your needs are. For example, if you have been regularly exercising but have injured yourself you might need more informational support from a physiotherapist to help you get active again. If you find you know how and why you should eat healthy but you aren’t doing a great job with meal prep, maybe you need some companionship from a friend or family member to cook with on the weekend.

Dogs & Activity Levels

Did you know that dog owners are more likely to reach physical activity levels than people that don’t own dogs? Most owners feel guilty about not walking their dogs which becomes a powerful incentive to at least get out for a walk. Dogs provide lots of companionship support.

Fitness Instructors

It is important to find a fitness instructor whose style jives with your needs and what you like in an exercise session. Instructors provide almost all types of support by designing the exercise program, providing a fun atmosphere, and providing praise and encouragement throughout the session. Even though instructors may look the same on paper, each one is different. Finding an instructor that works for your needs will help to ensure you stay active!

Who do you count on for social support? What kind of support do they provide you?

Did you like this post? Check out the printer-friendly pdf.

Leave a Reply