Home > Activity Participation Motivation, Community Wellness, Social Media: Wellness, Wellness Programming > Healthy People 2020 – What’s In the Social Network?

Healthy People 2020 – What’s In the Social Network?

Recently, Healthy People 2020 joined with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness to brainstorm and collaborate around ways to reduce the cost-impact from obesity related conditions.  They determined a few “truths,” but I sincerely believe they missed one of the most important factors.

Granted, a person’s physical activity levels are not determined by will power alone. They are also influenced by a number of social and environmental factors including:

  • The built environment, such as the availability of sidewalks, bike lanes, and parks, as well as physical barriers, such as lack of accessible facilities for people with disabilities
  • The natural environment, such as weather and daylight hours
  • Policymaking, which can improve or reduce access to facilities that support physical activity
  • Social factors, such as the cost of physical activities, social norms, neighborhood crime, and social support
Looking closely at the final item in their list we finally see what might be the most crucial and important, they call it social norms and social support.  I believe the group is thinking about the importance of what a group expects of each other and the social group support (or lack of it) around physical activity.  Close, but not a bulls-eye.
No bull’s-eye either for the new Healthy People 2020 objectives related to policies targeting younger children through:

  • Physical activity in childcare settings
  • Television viewing and computer usage
  • Recess and physical education in the Nation’s public and private elementary schools
The one thing most important is missing – what do families and friends already do together and in their spare time? Are they active? Is physical activity given prime time in their schedules, dates, social activities, hobbies and leisure activities?  If those lifestyle choices are sedentary – an individual will be hard-pressed to move the entire group-habit no matter how motivated one individual might be.  Until options, choices and PA programs intertwine with existing activity and leisure choices we will always have an uphill battle among the least active – and most at-risk.
When a lunch outing with friends or a shop[ping trip can include motivating, easy-entry, physical activity fun for the ;east active social networks we’ll be one step closer to longer term engagement. When a drop by a favorite pub or coffee house can include a physical activity piece in a seamless and relevant manner – we will be on the right track.  Mobile apps, branded incentive programs and group synchronous and asynchronous game options are a technology poised to create activity-life-choices an ACTION item.
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