There is no doubt a visit to the gym can lead to better heart health, lower blood pressure, stronger, more toned muscles, as well as an array of mental health benefits – but have you considered the social benefits? Below, I highlight a few:
Boosts your Motivation
One of the most obvious social benefits of physical activity is having others to help push you to your limits, and reach new all-time bests. Exercise can be a lonely experience, especially when all you can listen to is the voice in your head telling you to stop and give up. But having a friend with you can motivate you to keep going.
For those who struggle with exercise, this is incredibly important. Whether it’s to do with a physical impairment or simply not feeling comfortable at the gym, a boost of energy from a friend can give you that extra push to reach your goals. One group that may struggle with exercise is older adults, where exercise still plays an important part in health.
One of the most difficult things about exercising regularly is keeping it consistent, especially if you’re new to fitness, or you’re struggling to maintain a regular schedule of visiting the gym, going out for a run, or even loading up a fitness DVD.
But arranging to exercise with a friend means you’ll be keeping each other in check, with the social obligation being another reason to get out of the house and get active. Nobody wants their friends to think they’re lazy or leave them high and dry when they’re trying to do their best too.
The social benefits of exercise and the support of a workout partner cannot be underestimated – people who ride bikes in a group tend to pedal twice the distance of single bikers, and people who joined a group fitness class reported 10% more activity only one month later.
Develop Teamwork Skills
A great social health benefit of exercise is that it can encourage development of your teamwork skills. Being able to work in a team is a key skill that helps us to communicate effectively with people, but it can be something people struggle with.
Maybe you feel overwhelmed in a group and end up not participating, or you always want to take the leadership role instead of learning to take a step back. Naturally, team sports can build these skills in a low-pressure, relaxed environment.
This shows the physical, mental, and social benefits of exercise, as you will learn collaborative, synergistic teamwork, as well as gaining an identity as part of a team, a cohesive group atmosphere, and a positive team culture.
Enhances Cognitive Function
Apart from the physiological benefits that come from exercising, another social benefit of exercise is its ability to improve your cognitive functions. Consistent exercise boosts your memory and thinking skills in both a direct and an indirect way.
All forms of physical exercise act directly on the body, and trigger changes in insulin levels, reduction of inflammation, and releasing of endorphins. It can also promote the production of certain growth factors, too.
These chemicals affect the growth rate of new brain cells, impacting the health of the brain overall, and preventing age-related decline such as memory loss. Exercise prevents mild cognitive impairment by improving blood flow.
Improves Self esteem and
Self-esteem and self-confidence can sometimes be elusive emotions but thankfully due to the social health benefits of exercise, you will see a profoundly positive.
When you feel better in your body, you feel better mentally, and so you’ll be more interested in exploring new places, meeting new people, and you’ll even have more energy to take on new and exciting challenges.
If you’re looking to improve your concentration, you’ve probably heard that exercise can help you focus and stay on task. It can help us to burn off excess energy, and provide our brain with additional blood flow and oxygen, enhancing our creativity and critical thinking.
Even taking a short break during your workday for some exercise can improve your concentration and mood. Both lead to improved productivity.
Alternatively, walking to work can provide a valuable boost to your concentration levels in the morning.
In order to achieve a good level of concentration, two important aspects of cognitive function must work at their best: first is the sustained attention, where you are able to focus on a piece of information for long periods of time.
Second is executive function, which is your ability to think about and make decisions at a more complex level. The social benefit of physical activity is that both of these will improve with regular exercise, providing a release valve for stress and pressure.
Boosts Energy Levels for
The final social benefit of exercise is that you will have increased energy for socialisation purposes – enabling you to combine your confidence, communication skills, and positive mood.
Regular exercise increases your endorphin levels. Endorphins are the body’s natural hormones that are released when we are doing something that requires a burst of energy. They are what helps us to move. This rush of endorphins can also help to improve your sleep quality, meaning you will feel more refreshed throughout the day.
Regular physical activity increases the blood flow around your body and improves your cardiovascular health and fitness. This means more blood and oxygen will provide more energy for you.
It will also make you more efficient at utilising your body’s stores of sugar and fat as fuel for your workouts, allowing you to burn them for energy as well as regulating blood sugar levels so you won’t have to deal with the peaks and troughs that cause fatigue.
Surprising Social Benefits of Exercise:
• Increases reliability
• It helps you discover likeminded individuals
• Improves memory
• Enables you to value friendships
• Helps you adjust to new surroundings
Whatever form of exercise you choose, the social benefits will prove as valuable and meaningful as the physical ones.