Using Social Pressure To Prevent Physical Impairment

By: Luis Torres

Good Social Pressure Vs. Bad Social Pressure
According to a recent article published by Women and Health, "Fun, social support, and concern with body image facilitated participation in [physical] activity [in schools]. In contrast, negative experiences in physical education classes, concerns about appearance after activity, and lack of opportunity impeded participation in activity." This information is perhaps a great weapon to combat obesity, diabetes, and other weight related issues that affect a child's physical ability and further expose them to physical impairments in their future.

Understanding the differences between the good social pressure that encourages physical activity and the negative social pressure which impedes activity, is crucial for creating a physical education curriculum that maximizes a child's participation. Although the article focuses on Latina women, the underlying message is that certain characteristics in a physical education routine will encourage better participation than others.

Implications for Educators and Parents
Educators and parents can use this information to manage behavioral expectations and create social norms in gym classes, and physical activities that allow for the creation of positive social pressure. Making activities fun, promoting social support networks, and setting physical goals, might then be some of the priorities of a physical education curriculum.

Women & Health
… a multidisciplinary journal of women's health issues
Editor: Ellen B. Gold, PhD
Professor and Chief, Division of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis