If you do a quick Google search for the term “peer pressure” or the “effects of peer pressure” you throw up a lot of articles and studies about teenage peer pressure.
Most of these articles, studies and forum debates talk about the negative aspects of peer pressure and how it can throw a dedicated, hard working kid off the rails. This can lead them to all sorts of negative things.
The Teachers Digest even gives us 6 reasons why peer pressure is bad for teenagers especially.
These reasons range from performing badly in school, distancing themselves from their family and even going so far as thoughts of self-harm or suicide idealisation.
Google the term, “effects of adult peer pressure” and you don’t fair much better. It’s obvious to me that it exists and again it can have a negative impact.
I don’t disbelieve that negative peer pressure can lead to these feelings, harm relationships and lead to awful things.
But what if I told you it could have a positive impact too?
And what if I told you that you could use this positive impact to help you to achieve more in your health and fitness?
Read on, and I will tell you all about it.
What is Peer Pressure?
Peer Pressure is the direct influence on people by peers, or the effect on an individual who gets encouraged to follow their peers by changing their attitudes, values or behaviours to conform to those of the influencing group or individual.
Let’s pick the bones out of that shall we?
Essentially it means the pressure that can be placed upon us, directly or indirectly by others within our peer group.
The effects of this pressure can change our attitude or standpoint on issues but the effects could also mean that we do something that we wouldn’t normally do.
Peer pressure is something that has been around since we crawled out of the primordial soup, it is still around in the animal kingdom and it is an essential part of who we are.
Humans are very social animals and need to be around others to feel better but more than that, in our infant and adolescent years we learn from others. In fact, we spend most of our early years imitating others. Without this, we wouldn’t know how to do the most basic of things and would be socially very awkward.
Where peer pressure really starts to become obvious is in adolescence. During this time, the teenager become far more aware of the importance of their peer group and puts greater weight to their opinions as they want to be accepted by them.
This can lead to the negative effects that are associated with the term “peer pressure”. Including the greater chance of risk taking.
Adult Peer Pressure
As we become adults and often enter the workplace for the first time, we aren’t immune from the effects of peer pressure. Again, most references to this are in terms of being bullied in the work place. We tend to see the negative effects being reported and not the positive.
So how am I going to spin the effects of peer pressure in to a positive when it comes to your health and fitness.
Well that’s the easy bit.
As a coach, I use peer pressure everyday to encourage my clients to head down the path that is best for them and their health.
This includes making the right food and exercise choices.
The way I see it, there are two main ways that peer pressure is a great tool that good coaches and clients can use.
This is your social group and the effects they have on your behaviour, this could be better or for worse so, be aware.
When used for good, you and your pals can head down to the gym class together and each jockey each other to attend if it’s needed.
When I don’t feel like exercising and believe it or not, this even happens to me, having a friend that shames me (peer pressure) into going is a good thing. I feel so much better. I can also do the same for my friend when it’s needed.
It’s even better when you are part of a club or group that train together. That sense of belonging and not wanting to let others down only intensifies the draw to attend that fitness class.
Also, as part of a gym or club you often have to book your place. This acts as a simple pressure that ensures you actually attend. If your resolution is wavering, book the class. You won’t want to let it go to waste.
Plus, you also get the added benefit of being social and all the feel-good chemicals that are released into the brain.
Not All Positive
There are times when peer pressure can lead to negative results and I see this all the time as well.
How about Friday after work and your work buddy drags you down the pub for a quick drink. Hell, it’s been a long week. Why not?
Several hours, drinks and a kebab later and you are left wondering where it all went wrong. This is definitely a negative effect.
How about when you are going to be strong on an evening, you definitely aren’t going to touch that bottle of wine in the cupboard, what happens? Your other half sits down in front of you drinking wine. “Go on, just have a little glass”.
We’ve all been there.
So, this brings us to the peer pressure that can be exerted by online means.
First, we have the power of social media. You can easily be a member of an online community that can help you stick to your goals.
There are also really sophisticated apps that allow you to scan the barcodes on what you are eating, giving you an exact nutritional breakdown or apps that allow you to challenge your friends on running or cycling routes.
These apps also link with wearable technology that track your movement.
It has been proven in this study that those who wear this technology or use the apps, work out more and this is down to the challenge of trying to beat your friends.
These are all forms of peer pressure.
I feel that it can be used for good by those that embrace it when trying to stay on track with their health.
I personally encourage this with my clients and have created a little “Family” with its members actively helping others to stay on track and to come to classes.
There is even a healthy dose of competition in there as well sometimes.
Why don’t you have a think about how a little positive peer pressure could help you?
Maybe it’s the one part of your fitness routine you are missing.
If you have any comments about this or anything else then please leave them below.
Be all you can be