Let’s see… As humans we have a natural tendency to bond with someone or something. Human bonding refers to a process of developing close relationships with other humans.

It’s pretty simple; when we feel secure and happy, our bonding is a healthy behaviour. We either build relationship with family, friends and pets, or take part in social activities such as community based sports/exercise.

It’s also proven; moderate-intensity physical activity triggers the release of the feel-good substances – the opioids. Sharing that pleasant euphoria and working out in a synchronous matter connects us in a more cohesive unit. And that is human bonding. You know, the friendly rivalry, the helping hand, the “go faster”  or “no rep” screams, the coffee after a workout, I guess also a little bit of jealousy from time to time, etc? 

The studies somehow support this claim: compared to non-synchronized preparations, rugby players performed significantly better after a synchronized group warm-up (1).

On the darker side of things, human bonding can also take the wrong turn; our bonds are broken, we feel traumatised and crave for an immediate pain relief. We can either completely ditch the exercise or perform it in a very extreme matter. We tend to isolate ourselves from humans and bond with something else (extreme sports, food, drugs, games…).

Of course addiction requires an appropriate treatment, but I do believe the mild traumas can be soothed with simply getting back into the sport community and bond with like-mined peers.

How you are using physical activity is all up to you, but most of us seek well-being, rather than a professional athlete career.

In my opinion; before any other objective, the main goal of physical activity should be human bonding.

Social inclusion and friendships are what keeps us being active on the long run. And that’s a pretty good strategy to boost our longevity and health.

Some people need exercise for personal growth, to discover how strong they are. Some communities need sport for social and economic development, to educate and advance their environment. Some individuals need sport and its social inclusion for recovery from addiction or abuse. Under- or overweight people need physical activity to stay healthy. Actually, we all need it to stay fit.

And I agree; it feels good to run faster or PR a lift, or climb a mountain and work up to a crazy yoga pose. But this improvement most often happens with a help of social support; your friends or teammates “being there”.

 

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Social Bonds and Exercise: Evidence for a Reciprocal Relationshi, Arran Davis , Jacob Taylor, Emma Cohen. University of Oxford, 2015