Developing a social support network offers benefits that enhance overall well-being. For many, ringing in the new year also means a renewed focus on healthier lifestyle habits. Determining a healthy lifestyle can vary for individuals, but making changes to improve your health can benefit your body, mind, and bank account. The dilemma is remaining consistent with your health goals can be difficult.
A recent survey revealed 53% of Americans would fail a diet or exercise routine if they pursued their goals alone. Cfommunity and social support make it easier to build a healthy lifestyle. Communities provide the accountability and encouragement needed to accomplish goals.
Benefits of Focusing on a Healthy Lifestyle
Why is it important to focus on changing unhealthy habits and building new ones instead? First, starting with small, healthy choices, like swapping junk food for fruits and vegetables, make it easier to remain consistent. As you build habits that support a healthy lifestyle, little shifts make it easier to continue on a path of positive decisions. For example, if you eat well-balanced meals, filled with fruits, vegetables, and protein, you will have more energy to exercise.
Another advantage is that making healthy lifestyle choices prevents disease. According to a 2020 study, individuals who did 11 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day had a lower risk of death compared to those who only exercised at that intensity for two minutes. Making better wellness choices can also help lengthen lifespan up to 14 years longer.
Going to the doctor is expensive, especially if you have health issues. Those who make healthy choices are less likely to have to see a doctor, and underlying issues are less common when they do. This saves money by reducing co-pays, prescriptions, and treatments.
Get Started: Social Support System
So, where do you start? First, you need to establish what your goals are. Make sure to follow the SMART method, to ensure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Once you have established what changes you need to make to achieve a healthier lifestyle, tell someone about it. The best person to choose is someone who will hold you accountable. This may be your spouse, your roommate, or family member who is around often to support you. When asked how your journey is going, be open and honest! Honesty is crucial when gauging your progress and staying on track, and it all starts with being honest with yourself.
Finally, join a community that offers support. Right now, this motivation may be virtual support in the form of a social media group or fitness app. Look for peers who are aiming to reach the same goals as you.
Social Support for Healthy Lifestyles
Anyone who has tried dieting knows it is more difficult when you’re surrounded by unsupportive people, no matter your will-power. How close friends and family react to your exercise and eating choices- whether positive or negative- can influence your attitude towards forming new habits.
Surrounding yourself with supportive family, friends, and support groups makes it easier to reach your goals. Positive social support has many benefits. Social support supplies encouragement and accountability. Interacting regularly with others making similar health choices provides a model or shared experience for target behavior. Studies have shown the benefits of social support can improve consistency across a wide variety of health behaviors, including eating less fat and exercising more.
While COVID-19 has limited socialization, online groups and fitness applications offer solutions to the solitude of dieting during the pandemic. A quick Facebook search can connect you with groups of peers aiming to improve their lifestyle in similar ways. Health and fitness apps are now working to incorporate more community into their platform. These fitness apps can provide support no matter where you are.
Ultimately, it is easier to make healthy choices when you surround yourself with others who are making healthy choices and support your success.
A healthy lifestyle helps you feel better, look better, reduce disease, and save money, but getting started isn’t easy. A community that provides positive, social support will make it easier to reach your goals and become the best version of yourself. Reach out to your friends, join a support group or download a fitness app, and get started on a journey to success.