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Peer Pressure and Wellness Challenges: A Surprising Connection

For most people, the term “peer pressure” holds a rather negative connotation. Just the mention of it generally conjures up images of a teenager on the brink of making a poor decision at the urging of “the bad kids”. However, peer pressure is alive and well in the everyday lives of adults and it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

Have you ever selected a restaurant based even in part upon a Yelp review? Has a product’s Amazon star ratings ever influenced your purchasing decision? Has another driver’s “good” action helped you avoid the urge to run the red light or not stop for a pedestrian? All of these are examples of peer pressure in action (and, yes, I have to admit based upon my own experiences).

Peer pressure in the workplace

Among the many ways in which peer pressure can manifest or be utilized in a work setting, perhaps one of the best examples can be seen in team-based wellness program challenges. These activities capitalize on the positive sides of peer pressure to benefit individuals and organizations alike.

Wellness challenges can develop a greater sense of community in the workplace.

What are wellness challenges? Simply put, they are activities that challenge people to do something considered beneficial for their health over a specific period of time. Teams are created as a way of leveraging the power of friendly competition (and, yes, peer pressure). There really is no limit to the number of challenges that could be developed. If it can be measured, it can become a challenge. The number of hours slept, minutes exercised, steps taken, ounces of water consumed and more can all be the focus of a wellness challenge.

Where does peer pressure come in? One employee may encourage a co-worker to join a wellness challenge team. Team members can feel increased motivation to “do their part” to help their teams win. People who don’t participate in a particular challenge may be more inclined to be part of another one after seeing the camaraderie and results of a prior challenge.1

These positive examples of “peer pressure” can benefit physical health and more. Wellness challenges can develop a greater sense of community in the workplace—something that has been shown to improve individual happiness as well as productivity. And, that happiness is something that can be carried home with people at the end of the work day—thereby influencing life outside the walls of an office.

Wellness incorporates every aspect of a person’s life and must be continually pursued.

Hello Wellness 2.0

Once again, what seems like a small thing—a wellness challenge—is found to not only be rooted in something deeper but impact something much larger than itself. Wellness incorporates every aspect of a person’s life and must be continually pursued. The realities of life preclude us from achieving wellness once and calling it done.

Even the Dalai Lama follows a daily practice of meditation, prayers, diet and other activities all designed to maintain his enlightened state. He knows that failing to do these things could jeopardize what makes him “him”. Similarly, a professional athlete does not attain peak performance and conditioning only to then slack off on training or diet. Continual work is needed.

Wellness challenges can be part of helping people remain ever-focused on improving their health and wellness thanks, in part, to the benefits of peer pressure. I know I was “pressured” into doing my first—and probably not my last—Spartan race by my brother (see my last blog post) and I couldn’t be happier about it.


As Senior Director of Market Strategy for WebMD Health Services, Christine Muldoon brings over 15 years of experience in health care applications and strategy. Her work spans product and market strategy and has been with WebMD for 10 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Providence College and an MBA with a specialization in healthcare management from the University of Connecticut.

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