Be a (Positive) Influencer

Be a (Positive) Influencer
By Erin Phelan

By Erin Phelan

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

We are in the age of influence.

 

Across all social media platforms – from Tik Tok to Instagram – you can’t get away from fitness influencers sharing positive – or damning – messages to hit the gym, offering workout advice, or pushing through chest day to their 1M+ followers.

 

But what about the day-to-day power of influence that we have to inspire each other to get healthier?

 

Every active Canadian is an ambassador of this preventative health program we call exercise. And on June 1st, 2024, National Health and Fitness Day, Fitness Industry Council of Canada in inspiring Canadians to Be A (Positive) Influencer.

 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of the National Health and Fitness Day Act, which established the first Saturday in June as a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians. The National Health and Fitness Day Act stipulates Canadians use National Health and Fitness Day to increase awareness, and encourage Canadians to increase their level of physical activity, and that “it is in Canada’s interest to improve the health of all Canadians to reduce the burden of illness on Canadian families and on the Canadian health care system.”

 

Fitness Industry Council of Canada, the non-for-profit voice of the Canadian fitness industry, will once again be opening our facility doors to the public. But we are going one step further, putting the power into the hands of our members, who have the potential to turn the tide on physical activity levels in Canada more than any public message, and inspiring all active Canadians to: Be a (Positive) Influencer – bring a friend to the gym, take a class together, teach a family member how to squat.  The power we have to influence someone’s health habits is well-documented.

 

Let’s dive into the research.

1. SOCIAL CIRCLES = POSITIVE INFLUENCE

The impact of social circles on physical activity levels cannot be overstated. Research consistently shows that friends and family play a crucial role in shaping our exercise habits and overall health behaviors. Whether it’s through encouragement, accountability, or shared activities, the influence of our social networks can significantly impact our wellness outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that individuals were more likely to adhere to an exercise program when they received social support from their close relationships. Whether it’s a spouse cheering you on during a morning run or friends joining you for a gym session, supportive, loving individuals can boost motivation and commitment to fitness goals.

 

2. ACCOUNTABILITY = COMMITMENT

Accountability is a powerful factor in the influence of friends and family on exercise habits. When we involve our social circles in our fitness journey, we create a sense of accountability that drives us to stay committed to our goals. According to a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, people who exercised with a partner or in a group setting were more likely to adhere to their workout routines compared to those who exercised alone. The accountability piece is powerful – and stems from having a shared commitment towards achieving healthier lifestyles. National Health and Fitness Day is a great opportunity to put this into motion – literally!

 

3. SOCIAL = ENJOYMENT

We have all been there – dragging ourselves to the gym because we made a plan to go to a class with a friend. Exercise is better shared and can be a source of social interaction and fun – participating in group workouts and fitness activities with loved ones not only promotes physical health but also strengthens our social bonds, which enhances overall well-being.  Research published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that exercising in a social context can not only increase enjoyment and reduce perceived exertion, but can lead to longer and more frequent exercise sessions. The social aspect of exercise adds an element of fun and camaraderie that keeps individuals engaged and motivated to stay active.

 

4. LEADERS = FOLLOWERS

You don’t have to have a million followers to Be a (Positive) Influencer. One of the most potent ways we can impact our friends and families’ health is to lead by example. When we see our loved ones prioritizing their well-being and making healthy choices, it motivates us to follow suit. Research published in the journal Obesity Reviews suggests that individuals are more likely to adopt healthy behaviors when they observe them in their social networks, including friends, family, and colleagues.

 

Be a (Positive) Influencer

Physical activity levels in Canada have improved by slight margins the last twenty years, but the rates of sedentary behavior and physical inactivity need to be a wake-up call to us Canadians. Our healthcare systems is clogged with non-communicable diseases that can be prevented through a healthy diet, not smoking and getting active. Behavior changes is complex – but all research and data show that the power of influence is real – when we model healthy habits and demonstrate the benefits of regular exercise, family and friends can impact positive change on the lives of their loved ones.

 

Let’s use National Health and Fitness Day to Be a (Positive) Influencer!

Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) is the not-for profit trade association that represents the voice of fitness facility operators across Canada. Representing more than 6,000 facilities with more than six-million members nationwide, FIC pursues a legislative agenda in the hope of bettering the fitness industry for both consumers and operators. FIC aims to work with both industry and government to improve the health and physical activity levels of Canadians.

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