Want to exercise more?


Research is increasingly demonstrating the power of social interaction in influencing human behaviour. This is because the way we act is strongly affected by our colleagues, friends and family. “Behavioural research shows that we’re all heavily influenced by the behaviours and characteristics of the company we keep. For example, you may eat less when surrounded by thinner people. And, it seems that the same applies to physical activity,” says head of Vitality Wellness, Dr Craig Nossel. “Two of the biggest drawbacks to starting and maintaining an exercise regime are motivation and staying power,” he explains. But, the solution may be as simple as finding an exercise partner, he adds.

Encouragement is motivating

Dr Pamela Rackow from the Institute of Applied Health Sciences explains: “Once we found that having a new exercise companion increases frequency, we wanted to find out what quality of support has this effect. Our results showed that the emotional social support from the new sports companion was the most effective. Thus, it is more important to encourage each other than to do the actual activity together.”

Dr Craig adds that humans are social creatures, and training together taps into our human desire for approval. “Along with increased accountability, exercising with others offers a greater sense of connection and satisfaction.” Getting fit with others is nothing new, says Mari Leach, Discovery Vitality biokineticist. “In recent years, there’s been an enormous amount of local and international interest in working out together, with increasing numbers participating in spinning, CrossFit, Zumba, boot camp and other fitness classes as well as weekly park runs.” Increasingly emerging are the benefits of exercising together instead of working out on your own. “In terms of commitment, intensity and duration, research demonstrates that having people around helps you to stay focused, achieve your goals and up your game.”

Invite friends

Discovery Vitality has been putting these learnings into practice with the recent launch of its 10-week Vitality Open campaign. It invites all South Africans to experience their Vitality Active Rewards programme. Members have been shown to increase their frequency of physical activity by 24%, and when exercising, tend to do so at a higher intensity. In an effort to urge South Africans to move more and drive better, the Vitality Open offers participants compelling incentives to achieve exercise and drive goals. When you achieve a goal, you get a play on a board game, which can earn you beverages, meals and online shopping rewards at a range of reward partners. You can also use plays to gain a chance at winning prizes for life, such as running shoes, flights and the latest iPhone. To encourage participants to make the most of the social aspect of exercising, anyone who invites five friends to join Vitality Active Rewards with them this week can earn a bonus play. If you’re over the age of 18, you can join the Vitality Open for free by downloading the latest version of the Discovery app.

Simply scan this QR code to get started:

Fighting against poor health

Dinesh Govender, chief executive officer at Discovery Vitality, adds: “Discovery’s core purpose is to make people healthier as well as to enhance and protect their lives. Vitality supports this by encouraging and rewarding healthier behaviour. And, Vitality Active Rewards is our most personalised, real-time and effective weapon against poor health.” Dr Nossel shares on the excitement of the launch of Vitality Open because of its potential to impact the lives of individuals, along with their families and communities, with knock-on benefits for society. “Our hope is that South Africans seize the chance to experience how compelling incentives and the social aspect of exercising can be, and for all this to fuel the start or the sustainment of healthier habits for life.” To learn more about Vitality Open, visit us here.