Spending time with active friends motivates people to incorporate fitness into their daily routine, a new study suggests.
Experts have found that increased social interaction between less and more active people influences the former to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
The researchers at Kean University in New Jersey analysed data from the US Military Acadamy to see whether social activities can play a key role in boosting physical activity within a community.
Using a mathematic model that simulates how social interactions would affect a population’s exercise trends over time, they found that the absence of such activities would lead to a longterm decrease in physical activity.
In such a community, sedentary behaviour would begin to dominate.
In contrast, when the simulation included social interactions between less active and moderately active people, those who were previously sedentary began to take up more physical activity.
Additionally, in simulations where moderately active people became more sedentary over time, the overall levels of activity among the community were found to decrease.
In the UK, the NHS recommends that the average adult takes part in 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. Moderate activities include brisk walking, riding a bike, dancing, rollerblading, playing tennis, or mowing the lawn.
Authors of the study, which has been published in the Plos One journal, said the findings could “inform public health efforts to boost community physical activity levels”.
“These findings can be used to design and implement community-based exercise programs that lead to long-term exercise persistence in the community,” the authors commented.
They added: “We have traditionally directed physical activity interventions by engaging sedentary individuals to become more active.
“Our model suggests that focusing on the moderately active population to sustain their activity and increasing their interactions with sedentary people could stimulate higher levels of overall physical activity in the population.”