According to the experience of these ebáis, people of all ages stay longer in the exercise programs and their motivation increases when they are in group, because they give mutual support and then the individual effort becomes a socially rewarding experience.
Gabriel Anchía Hernández, physical educator in charge of the exercise sessions and coordinator of the celebration activities, and Dr. Sandra Navarro Brenes, nutritionist of the group that carries out educational activities and anthropometric measurements.
Both professionals work for Coopesana, entity that administers the ebáis of the zone and are an example of successful experiences in the community.
GROUP ACTIVITY IS ENJOYABLE
“Many sedentary people believe that those who exercise do not have fun, but then come and discover that the group likes to have fun, feel good and exercise together, everyone does it at their own pace, but collective motivation,” says the physical educator, pointing to that enthusiasm as one of the keys to success.
According to him, sports literature has already confirmed that exercising in the company of a friend, partner or group can be the source of stimulation needed to break with the sedentarism of many years.
And he points to two important researches to support the idea: Professor Genevieve Dunton, as principal investigator at the University of Southern California, concluded that groups enjoy more and are happier than those who do physical activity alone.
The study also reported higher levels of happiness when exercising outdoors and in green spaces. The research was presented last year at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, where it presented those findings.
The other study pointed out on the subject is that of the Department of Psychology of the University Santa Clara of California, United States. The conclusion is that having a point of comparison with another person during training helps achieve goals related to physical activity.
The researchers indicated that doing physical activity with a partner increases motivation, generates greater intensity of exercise, and promotes some healthy competition, which stimulates calorie expenditure.
In a broader sense, the scientific disseminator Eduard Punset affirms that there is a natural joy when we do group activities: “Humans need to belong to something, to a social group, to a herd and, therefore, in our own nature is the feeling of well-being when we meet in a group”.
Professor Anchía notes important coincidences between these studies and the analysis of qualitative interviews of their groups, when people express the desire to continue with the process of physical activity on a permanent basis.
He says that the key lies in the amenity associated with interpersonal relationships, as motivation increases along with the advantage that there is personalized attention, because close supervision is given to each one, which favors training.
“When someone is absent, the companions themselves call and worry that the group is complete, which favors adherence and constancy, so that the impulse of the group helps the person who lacks the strength to get up and train,” says the expert.
He also explains
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL BENEFITS
In methodological terms, the aim of the groups is to maintain a healthy lifestyle through the practice of physical activity and thus prevent chronic non-communicable diseases and improve their quality of life.
In practical terms, when they begin, most tell a long history of sedentary life and are concerned that their vitality has diminished over the years. So the starting purpose is to adapt and then draw up a physical conditioning plan.
Thus, as they progress, group members achieve physical health goals, such as decreased body weight (through expenditure of body fat) and increased strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscle elasticity, and joint range.
In the physical process, people notice other mental benefits, such as improved self-esteem, self-concept, and what they can achieve with effort. In addition to better concentration and greater confidence that goals can be met.
In addition, there are reported greater feelings of satisfaction and appreciation for self-image and, in general, greater joy in having better interpersonal relationships, given the greater handling of stress, which allows them to be more serene to face the tense situations of life.
In summary, Professor Anchía says that an important improvement in mood is noticed and reported, which impacts people’s lives in general.
THE KEYS TO SUCCESS
The physical educator Gabriel Anchía Hernández (in charge of the physical exercise sessions and coordinator of the groups) has developed strategies of communal intervention and proposes some norms that facilitate the success in this type of experiences:
- “Improve or maintain health without borders”: openness to the entire population of the country regardless of the place of residence or age group of people.
- “Respect for the condition of each person”: physical exercise sessions are carried out taking into account that all people are different, so that the largest number of participants achieve the benefits of constant practice.
- “Union and cohesion of group”: affective activities are carried out to strengthen the sense of union, so that people always feel part of the groups, through birthday celebrations, anniversary of the foundation of the group, holidays such as that of the mother and father, end of year, walks to integrate more, among others.
- “Coordination and unconditional support”: from its origins there are community leaders who collaborate with the development of the activities. These people must be constantly selected and motivated to maintain group leadership and coordination.
- “The constant process and continuous education go together”: emphasis is placed on the constant effort that each person must make to achieve the objectives through constant face-to-face and virtual education (whatsapp text messages) which helps to maintain good communication to eliminate nutritional and physical myths.
- “Strive, but above all, enjoy”: participation in the group should not be seen as a sacrifice or something obligatory, but as an opportunity to enjoy movement, healthy living and the associated benefits.
GROUPS ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNITY
GRUPO SANA: it is a group of approximately 70 people who mainly perform aerobic and danceable exercises; however, it also works on improving flexibility, strength, balance, muscular resistance, coordination, agility, among other important aspects for functionality and health.
The practice schedule is on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:00am and on Fridays at 8:00am in the Community Hall of San Francisco de Dos Rios, adjacent to the gymnasium of the Polideportivo de la comunidad.
In each exercise session different physical components are worked to vary the activities and to approach an integral physical work with the participants.
And, as is usual in this type of group work, Gabriel Anchía agrees that the ages of the younger and older members of the groups cannot be more than ten years between the older and younger.