Peers can encourage more physical activity
Whether you have trouble sticking to a regular exercise plan, or need an extra boost of motivation, leaning on friends can help. Research has shown that peer-led exercise programs and peer-support programs may improve adherence to physical activity among older adults. Walking groups are a great example of group activity that has benefits for both your health and well-being. They help promote physical activity while having added benefits including increased motivation and opportunity for socializing.
Peers can help you quit smoking and drinking alcohol
If you’re struggling to quit smoking or have alcohol problems, research shows that peer-led programs can be more effective than facing the challenge on your own. For older adults who engaged in group-based programs, they were 50% to 130% more likely to successfully quit smoking in comparison to self-help (for example, reading literature on smoking cessation on your own). Older adults who attended standardized peer-led Alcoholics Anonymous and professionally led Twelve-Step Facilitation programs were 3% to up to 42% more likely to abstain from alcohol use as a result.
Peers can help manage diabetes
Chronic diseases like diabetes are often “self-managed” – a model of care that empowers patients to be in control of their own treatments. This can involve a lot of responsibility and work, leaving patients to feel overwhelmed. That’s where your peers come in. Other people who have diabetes are more likely to understand what it is like to live with the disease day-to-day, so they are in a good position to provide support, encouragement and advice based on their own experiences. Peer support can complement other healthcare services by creating the emotional, social, and practical help necessary for managing the disease.
Adapting peer support in times of pandemic
Considering the current COVID-19 pandemic and measures put in place to control it, in-person peer-support programs or services may not be possible or recommended at this time. On the bright side, these types of programs and services can be delivered and accessed virtually through telephones, smartphones, computers, tablets, videoconferencing tools, and mobile applications.
To learn more about how peer support can benefit your health and well-being, read more in our resources below.