There is an interesting study done by Standford University on exercise. It shows how social support can positively affect the outcome of someone maintaining their weekly exercise program.
There were three experimental groups:
- Human advice–Study participants received a phone call from a trained health educator every two weeks and then monthly
- Automated advice–where the group received a similar phone call but it was an automated computerized interface
- No advice–where they had the same initial contact as above but received no follow up
All three groups were studied over a year. Significant improvement was made in increasing the average time spent exercising each week for both the human and computer supported programs. Even the ones not receiving any advice improved by 28%, because it was thought that they improved as there was going to be a check, though only at the end.
Is this social support being helpful or just being involved in a study. Definitely social support in this context by humans showed the most increase in maintaining ones exercise. Just being involved in some way also was helpful.
We are certainly a social animal, er human.