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Neighborhood Walking and Social Connection

What do you think: Should fit pros support more community activities?

Neighborhood Walking

As people emerge from pandemic restrictions and seek opportunities to gather, fitness professionals may want to consider supporting simple local activities, such as neighborhood walking, to boost “social capital.”

Social capital is the value of resources from social networks, like those experienced in communities and organizations. Active living researchers encourage neighborhood walking not only as a way to improve physical and mental well-being, but also as an activity to promote social support and feelings of connection and to build a stronger sense of community. They note that most walking research has focused on variables other than the importance of the social experience.

In light of the mental health challenges experienced by individuals during the pandemic (isolation and loneliness), study authors urge that more consideration be given to the health benefits of social connection.

The study is published in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living (2022; 4, 825224).

See also: The Benefits of Social Connections in Fitness

What Do You Think?

Neighborhood Walking Question

Social support, friendship and community bonds all increase exercise participation. What methods, if any, are you using to cultivate community and friendship among your facility members? What have you found particularly successful—for example, group online chats, special fun events, partner activities? Tell us about your experiences.

We want to hear from you! Email executive editor Joy Keller, [email protected].

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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