If you go solo in trying to lose weight and/or increase your physical activity, you may have better results teaming up. But choose your teammates wisely -- their success will predict your success. Being on a team that was successful in losing weight or increasing their pedometer steps per day was the biggest factor predicting success for Shape Up Rhode Island program participants. Researcher Tricia Leahey, Ph.D., of The Miriam Hospital and Alpert Medical School has published two papers on these findings, one for the increase in physical activity (pedometer steps per day) being team-dependent. The other just came out last week, showing that weight loss success in the same program depended on the success of your team. Press Release: Weight Loss Can Be Contagious, Study Says.
The social motivation of losing weight for the team or putting in more pedometer steps to not let the team down can be a great motivator. But what happens if you are on a team that doesn't do well? Wouldn't that drag down your own success? That's the flip side of the team concept. If you're on a losing team -- that isn't losing weight, that is -- you might want to jump ship.
Getting social support for increasing physical activity and losing weight can be a big help. I've been using our Calorie Camp program from our sister site Calorie Count to support my weight loss efforts. I'm down over 12 pounds. I haven't really used the social aspects of their program, which encourages you to gather Supporters and to comment on each others' daily posts.
But I have had good success in forming a walking team, with the results being that I almost always have a walking partner for long weekend walks and training for a half marathon or marathon. While I'm happy to walk alone, having to go out in the cold, wind, or rain to walk with a walking partner is extra motivation to actually do it.
How to Find Walking Friends
Leahey TM, Kumar R, Weinberg BM, Wing RR. "Teammates and social influence affect weight loss outcomes in ateam-based weight loss competition." Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Feb 7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2012.18. [Epub ahead of print]
Leahey TM, Crane MM, Pinto AM, Weinberg B, Kumar R, Wing RR. "Effect of teammates on changes in physical activity in a statewide campaign." Prev Med. 2010 Jul;51(1):45-9. Epub 2010 Apr 13.
Photo © Wendy Bumgardner