Exercising with a friend or acquaintance has long been recommended as a practical way to make sure you don’t skip something like your daily walk. For one thing, it’s almost impossible to say you’re skipping your workout when you have someone waiting for you.
Aside from reliably motivating you to show up to exercise, partnering up with a buddy increases the amount and intensity of physical activity you do, researchers have found. A study from Michigan State University, for one, found that doing aerobic exercise with a partner motivated subjects to work harder and longer, compared with those working out alone, thus improving overall fitness results.
Other studies have shown that people who spend time around fitness-minded pals also tend to be more successful at weight loss. In fact, the ideal partner, at least on paper, may be someone in slightly better shape than you are. Research has shown that a partner’s better fitness habits can rub off on us, inspiring us to reach higher levels of conditioning. And the effect is not small. These researchers found that having a more fit buddy could increase your workout time and intensity by as much as 200%
Of course, finding a workout companion can yield benefits beyond a lower resting heart rate. For instance, daily exercise partners who are friends (or who become friends) can provide the kind of regular emotional and social contact that’s critical to health, too.
In my years of experience, evaluating what creates long-term health and fitness success, the single most important factor is having a support system. Exercise partners provide a powerful combination of support, accountability, motivation and, in some cases, healthy competition. A buddy can motivate you to do one more set, continue when you feel like you have just had enough and want to give up, or when you are feeling a little off.
A 2011 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that the exercise habits of people you know have a positive influence on your exercise habits.
Another study, from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University, surveyed married couples who joined health clubs together and found that couples who worked out separately had a 43 percent dropout rate over the course of a year. Those who went to the gym together, regardless of whether they focused on the same type of exercise, had only a 6.3 percent dropout rate.
So if you’re ready to achieve and EXCEED your health and fitness goals, get yourself into the ‘buddy inspired’ 42 Day Transformation Challenge at Real Fitness Training commencing later this month and reap the amazing benefits that training with a buddy can bring with it!