Add a Little Fun to Your Workout: The Benefits of Working Out with a Friend
If you’re having trouble starting or maintaining a consistent workout schedule, the solution may be just a phone call away.
Tapping into your existing friendships and finding someone who is willing to workout with you, or at least provide the support of an accountability partner, can increase your level of success exponentially.
Need a little more convincing? Here are just a few of the science-backed benefits.
When left to our own devices, self-motivation can be a hard thing to activate. We might have a burst of motivation and follow through with our workout plans one day, and then promptly fall off the wagon when we realize there’s no one to answer to should we decide to bow out.
There are simply too many reasons to skip a workout and very few immediate consequences.
Having an accountability partner, however, can be a powerful deterrent to giving up. Establishing a routine with a friend means backing out of a workout produces the same guilt as canceling dinner plans at the last minute – something most of us would feel terrible about.
In fact, a study conducted by the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University found married couples who committed to going to the gym together – even if they participated in different activities – had a dropout rate of 6.3% over the course of a year, while those who went on their own had a dropout rate of 43%.
Busy lives means time with friends and family often takes the back burner. Yet, these relationships are essential if you truly want to feel happy and fulfilled.
Studies have shown that a lack of social connection can actually be as detrimental to your health as obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. On the flip side, increased social connection can improve your immune system and even lead to a longer life.
So instead of trying to squeeze in a dinner or happy hour date when it just won’t fit, establishing a workout routine with a friend can carve out that much needed social connecting time – without sacrificing your health and fitness in the process.
Accomplishing fitness goals, whether it’s maintaining a consistent workout schedule or running a marathon, can be riddled with obstacles. And, if throughout this journey you don’t see any rewards, you will likely give up as quickly as you started.
Luckily encouragement or a pat on the back from a workout buddy can be the reward you need to keep moving until you begin reaping the physical rewards like lost weight and increased strength.
In addition, sometimes you might not notice your improvement as much as a third party does. When you forget how challenging it was to run a mile when you first began, your workout buddy can remind you and push you to keep moving.
Think you’re too tired to do another rep? If faced with a little competition, you might suddenly forget how fatigued your muscles are.
A study conducted by the Society of Behavioral Medicine separated participants into three categories: those who biked alone, those who biked with a partner, and those who biked with a (virtual) partner but were told the results of their test would be based on the partner with the weaker performance.
The results? The first group made it an average of 10.6 minutes, the second group went 19.8 minutes and the third group made it 21.9 minutes. When faced with a little added competition, the third group made it over double the time of the first group.
And of course, there’s one added bonus…
Besides the science-backed evidence that a workout buddy can increase your results, perhaps the best reason to workout with a friend is it’s just more fun. And, for most, that’s reason enough.