Anyone who knows me understands that I am a bit of a hermit. I don’t have a lot of friends in my community. I stay home way too much and don’t often have a chance to go out unless it’s with the wife and kids. From this perspective, I can see how being social can improve fitness in several ways. In fact, it seems the people I do know are more likely to have weight problems if they don’t have a social life.
7 Ways Being Social Can Improve Health
Most humans are inherently social creatures. It’s why we collect in towns and spend a great deal of time interacting with one another. Even a hermit like myself is more comfortable knowing there are people nearby. Over the last few years, I’ve come to the sad realization that having friends and going out could lead to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve seen it in myself. The less I go out, the more weight I gained over the past decade. Here are seven ways that being social can improve your health.
1. Physical Activity
Although many people will take to outdoor sports alone, a large portion of the population would rather do it as a group. Not only is it safer, but it’s the interaction with others that can impact the experience. When I had a regular group of people I hung out with, I did far more than I do now. Even something simple like going out for coffee or shooting pool at a bar could enhance your physical fitness. It’s all about keeping the body moving when out in public.
2. The Buddy System
I’ve mentioned the buddy system in previous articles. This is when you find friends who are like-minded about being healthy. They can help you keep focused for health and can be monumental in the success of your fitness. Luckily, there are all kinds of groups you can join in virtually any location. Being social can be as simple as going out to a gym together or finding someone to go bike-riding with. The point is, these people may help you achieve your goals for fitness.
3. Giving You a Reason to Get Up and Out
One of my biggest faults is trying to convince myself to get up and moving. My wife does a great job of helping me stay focused, but I think being social in life would be greatly beneficial. There are more options when you have a wide scope of people you can hang out with. It can also reinforce your reasons to avoid sitting at your desk for hours on end watching Netflix.
4. Sharing Information
If you find groups who have a like-minded sense of health, you can learn quite a bit. This can include everything from sharing recipes to the best types of exercises to firm your butt. The social element is how most of us learn new information. Just look at Twitter and Facebook. If you took that same element and put it into real life, you’d be set. In reality, you can. It all depends on your level of interaction in the real world.
5. Embarrassment as Motivation
Let’s face it, most of us have little quirks or habits that are not conducive to health. Embarrassment prevents us from doing those things when out in public. Do you think I would down this box of Oatmeal Creme Pies when out walking down the sidewalk? No. In fact, I am doing what I can to make sure I’m not making a spectacle of myself when it comes to eating. I’ll even push myself to physical limits in order to show that I can do certain things. Unfortunately, sometimes this goes terribly wrong – like trying to help someone push their car down the road. The point is a lot of the things you do in private are not demonstrated in public.
6. The One-Up Factor
A lot of people will commit to activities for the sake of the one-up. It goes like this: A friend of yours can do 25 pushups inside of 30 seconds. Now, you feel as though you have to beat that record in order to show the person up. Almost everyone does this on some kind of level when being social. It’s the idea of wanting to be better than someone else at some kind of project. There is nothing truly wrong with this idea, until you take it too far. In fact, this kind of activity can help you determine your own limitations. It’s a friendly competition that drives us to succeed in a variety of ways.
7. Mental Status
Studies have shown that loneliness can have a negative impact on health comparable to excessive smoking or drinking. However, you need to know the distinction between loneliness and being alone. Loneliness is what you feel when you want to be around other people but are not. These people are often desperate for attention and may make wrong choices for friends just to be sociable.
There are many things you can do in almost any city that incorporates more of a social element. Facebook and Twitter may keep you connected, but they remove much of what makes you human. Truly being social means you get out there and mingle. You may just meet someone who can change your life for the better.