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My focus on the power of group fitness continues this month, as I keep finding research to support it. My latest discovery came out of The Journal of Active Aging. According to a 79-year-old Harvard Study of adult development, the world’s longest running study of the factors affecting health in later life, the most powerful predictor of good health is positive relationships.
This ongoing study evaluates a myriad of factors that affect how healthy participants age. While factors including genetics, diet, exercise and socioeconomic status were measured, positive relationships stood out as the most significant factor.
Those who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 turned out to be the healthiest at age 80. Positive relationships with family, friends and community appear to better predict long, healthy, happy lives than all other personal and social factors.
What does this mean for our industry and for your business? By understanding the impact quality relationships have on overall health and longevity, the fitness industry can promote this as one of the leading benefits of exercising in a group, whether that be group fitness classes, small group training or a social ‘club’ within your facility.
“Just as we strive to stay physically active in later life, we need to strive to stay connected with people, as the quality and quantity of our life depends on it,” said Dr. Jeff Rossman in his article “Strong Relationships: A Prescription for Healthy Aging.”
Think about the opportunities you have to bring members together in your club or facility to foster healthy relationships. The sooner this happens in their membership lifecycle, the better.
Over the past 30 years I’ve witnessed the power that group has on people’s lives physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. With this new information I am more assured than ever that what I am doing for the participants in my classes is far more than providing them with an exercise response. It is providing them with a lifeline.
Mo Hagan is vice president of program innovation for GoodLife Fitness and canfitpro.