Yesterday was #PlankADay’s 1st birthday—it has been 1 year since the original #plankaday tweet between me and Mike Bauman aka @mbfgmike. I was very excited to see all the people who came out on Twitter to support our celebration by planking on the hour, tweeting their plank pics and videos, and having fun with us. We had plankers from all over the world including Australia, Budapest, UK, Alaska, Hawaii, to name a few. Thanks so much to all!
I get excited about #plankaday because yes, I really used to be terrible about keeping up with abdominal exercise, but even more importantly because a community has formed around a health behavior. As a health psychologist, this fascinates me. I love that people get excited about exercise, that it can become a way to connect with others, and that it can be F-U-N. This health and fitness social community on Twitter has affected my motivation to exercise, has inspired me to push my physical limits, has gotten me to love an exercise I used to hate, and most unexpectedly, has changed the way I think about health behavior change.
I get excited about social media because it is the platform that gave life to this community.
#PlankADay is small. It is about a few thousand people engaging in one simple health behavior. The bigger question that needs exploring is how can social networks be leveraged to change the health of millions? I ask not “can they,” but “how can they,” because I believe they can and will.
With so much talk about legislating health behavior lately including taxing soda and Bloomberg’s proposal to change cup sizes in New York, I wonder if there are other directions we could also be exploring that have the potential to encourage people to change their behavior because they want to? Not because they have to or because they will be penalized if they don’t. Does social change have to occur via politics and legislation? Have we really given up on the idea that people will ever choose to live healthy because they want to? If we have, we gave up way too soon.
Social change occurs by building community, spreading innovation, and changing norms. When we think about community, neighborhoods and cities usually come to mind. However, social media has given us access to a global community that doesn’t have zip code, geographic, or socioeconomic status boundaries. What are we going to do with our ability to connect globally, spread innovation globally, and change norms globally? Let’s do SOMETHING.
Every single person using social media to talk about living healthy, whether it be posting links to health-related stories or talking about their last workout, is a small force in a growing social movement for health. Their numbers are building. If you haven’t seen it then you are really missing something. Our task as scientists and global citizens is to figure out how to catalyze this movement, stoke the flames, and lasso in even larger numbers.
Let’s spread health like the most unstoppable virus they’ve ever seen.
What if living healthy was something fun that we all looked forward to? What if living healthy was a way to make friends, laugh, de-stress and be silly?
Thanks to all of you who make social media a healthy and FUN place to hang out. Each one of you is making the world a healthier place whether you realize it or not.
Feeling like you want to join in? Here’s how to get started.
I’ll sign off with a few fun tweets and pics from the #plankaday birthday party yesterday!
Gillian @ITGill I’ve planked in 3 car parks outside stores and inside a store whilst shopping! All adds to the fun 😉
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