For the past two years you’ve probably been exercising solo – or at least trying to. Most of us find working out alone a challenge – especially when it comes to holding ourselves accountable. No judgement here! So what’s the easiest way to stick to your workout?
A study published in Nature Communications found that exercise is “socially contagious”. Meaning, get yourself a friend, or a group of friends to move with. So let’s get into why finding a workout buddy is beneficial both mentally and physically.
You’re more likely to commit to exercising
Did you know that 50% of people who start exercising as a New Year’s resolution end up quitting by the next season? But, you are less likely to skip that morning workout session if you have a friend waiting on you. Research shows that working out with a friend, even if only virtually, encourages people to stick to it for longer than they would normally on their own.
You’ll probably push yourself harder
As long as you aren’t hurting anyone (or yourself), there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of friendly competition. For those with a competitive streak, you’ll find training with a friend can push you even harder than you would if you were solo. When you exercise as part of a team, you might find even the most unfit of the group can work harder. This is called the Köhler effect, a phenomenon that occurs when a person works harder as a member of a group than when working alone.
Having fun makes the workout more effective
Generally speaking, when it comes to exercise, we only truly reap the benefits if we enjoy what we’re doing. Friends can make any exercise more fun – even if it’s just If exercising were easy, then we wouldn’t have to write articles like these. But, the truth is, with a workout buddy, you’ll get more pleasure from the experience. Who doesn’t appreciate the power of a good laugh while you are power-walking? And once you start relating positive emotions to your workout, you won’t dread it as much.
Positive reinforcement from friends is great
A word of encouragement between friends goes a long way. According to a study out of Scotland published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, emotional support of someone you trust can serve as powerful reinforcement for fitness goals.
You’ll be less stressed throughout the day
Socialising and exercising both help to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. So, naturally, by combining the two, you can amplify those effects. A small study looking at the effects of group fitness classes on stress and quality of life of medical students found a 26.2% reduction in perceived stress levels, which was higher than the students who exercised alone.
You’re more likely to reach your weight-loss goals *
Bad habits can catch like a cold and it’s much easier to quit them when you surround yourself with people with the same goals. The same is true for those looking to lose weight. According to research on a group of mostly female African American participants, those who had the help of family or friends who were also trying to lose weight were more successful than those doing it on their own.
*if that’s what you’re going for
You could actually live longer
Okay, so it’s not the fountain of youth, but it may add a good couple of years to your life. According to a large study of nearly 9,000 people over 25 years, participants who took part in social sports like soccer lived a few years longer than those who took part in solo sports like running or cycling. In fact, you may want to buy a tennis racket as participants who hit the court had 10 years added to their life spans. Just make sure you do some of TheOptimal.me’s stretch classes to keep yourself limber and injury-free.
What are you waiting for? Phone a friend and start your exercise journey with TheOptimal.me’s 21-day introductory programme. You’ll discover the power of integrated movement and how to incorporate it into your day. Take your first step now!