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Healthy Competition

By Jay Morris

Any sports fan knows that a little healthy competition can help you to reach your goals. Working in teams brings together different points of view, so team efforts can make it easier to reach a goal and solve problems. This in turn can build strong bonds between team members.

You could say that healthy competition is similar to cooperation.

But there are some differences between the two. Competition helps people feel confident in their individual skills, which boosts self-esteem. Competition also helps people learn what their own interests are. Competition is more for the individual.

On the other hand, cooperation is more about what can be brought to a group. Cooperation teaches people to pick tasks and complete them with others. Since this often involves working with groups, cooperation helps people learn to settle conflict and about the benefits of compromise. Cooperation teaches us about how to keep people together through working together. Working together helps people beat challenges they could not face alone.

Like exercise, all age groups can benefit from competing and cooperating!

Kids who compete in sports get a leg-up on finding out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Working with other kids teaches social skills and builds self-esteem. This is because competing and cooperating helps kids learn to value differences between themselves and others. By learning that different people have different skills to offer, kids learn how to appreciate other’s strengths and weaknesses.1

This holds true for adolescents as well. The teenage years are a time for adolescents to figure out their own beliefs and values. By being part of a team, teenagers increase their social skills. Studies show that teenagers are more likely to be motivated by competition than other age groups. Part of this is because teenagers are seeking to prove themselves as they begin the process to becoming adults.2

Walk Georgia offers many chances for people cooperate and compete. You can join a group to track your progress with other members. You can create sessions to bring people together to exercise. It all depends on what you feel will help you reach your health goal!

We challenge you to compete with your network of family and friends this spring, because when you move more, you live more!


1. Vallerand, R. J. (2007). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in sport and physical activity. Handbook of sport psychology, 3, 59-83.
2. Molanorouzi, K., Khoo, S., & Morris, T. (2015). Motives for adult participation in physical activity: type of activity, age, and gender. BMC Public Health, 15(1), 1-12. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1429-7