It is often for people to have a negative connotation with peer pressure, but in certain situations these influences can be positive, particularly toward health. This is proved true by Sabina Gesell, researcher at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine.
According to Gesell and her colleagues report in the journal Pediatrics, during the time the children spent in the study, the strongest factor influencing how much time they spent engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity was the activity level of their four to six closest friends
“I guess this makes sense as I always feel compelled to run a little bit faster to keep up with my more athletic friends,” said Sneha Rajagopal, 9.
In the study, scientists studied networks of friends in an after-school program involving students ages 5 to 12. Using a pedometer-like device that recorded minute muscle movements, the researchers tracked kids’ physical activity levels over a period of 12 weeks.
At the start of the program, none of the children knew one another well, so the researchers were able to track how the affects these changing relationships had on their physical activity level.
The affects were large ones. Children changed their exercise level about 10% to better match those in their circle; children who hung out with more active students were more likely to increase their physical activity levels, while those who befriended more sedentary children became less active.
The results are encouraging to people as they hope to use the power of peer pressure to help kids.
“People should definitely take advantage of these facts and try to lower risks of obesity,” said Joseph Moreno, 9.
Gesell will conduct the next phase of studies, which would break down exactly how large an influence a single active child can have on the behavior of his more sedentary classmates.
“I feel like it would have a large influence because I think that people’s actions and personalities revolve around their surroundings,” said Anan Lu, 10.
For more information visit Time.com.