They say friends are good for the soul, but it turns out they’re also pretty handy when it comes to staying healthy. A recent study published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity found that our friends in fact have a direct influence over our levels of health and fitness, suggesting that good habits can in fact be contagious.
Partnering up with a friend can spell the difference between success and failure, particularly when it comes to exercise regimes, which are notoriously difficult to stick to without any form of external motivation.
Buddying up on your exercise journey not only helps to increase your motivation – let’s face it, sometimes we don’t see the results as clearly in ourselves – but it’s also a great tool to keep you on track to reach your goals. It’s easy to cancel plans when you’re the only party involved, but add a buddy to the mix and extrication isn’t quite so easy.
Let’s face it, when confronted with the option of diving into a delicious chocolate cake or donning our sneakers to hit the gym, most of us would choose the former in a heartbeat. Ah, but what about those plans you made with your friend to go to gym? What would they think about the fact that you’re face deep in confectionary while they’re slogging away on the treadmill? Not to mention the fact that while you’re being submerged by a caloric tsunami, they’re out there perfecting their summer body – nobody wants to be the token fat friend.
Of course, not all exercise buddies are created equal, and picking the wrong one can in fact further reduce your chances of success. So it’s important that you don’t simply choose your best friend to accompany you on your fitness mission.
Here are four tips to help you select the perfect partner and double your chances of success:
Start At A Similar Level
There’s nothing more discouraging than being left in your exercise buddy’s dust time and again, so try to pick someone whose fitness levels closely match yours. It’s not a bad idea to partner up with someone slightly fitter than you - as that can play a part in motivating you to do better - but if your abilities differ vastly, you’ll quickly find yourself losing the will to work out.
Pick Someone Reliable
We all have those flakey friends who tend to cancel plans at the last minute. And whilst their flighty behavior might not be a deal breaker when it comes to your friendship, it’s certainly going to do no favours for your fitness. So pick a reliable buddy – one who can be counted on to stick to a plan – if you want to make real progress.
Go For Someone You Like
Exercise can be an unpleasant and arduous undertaking at times, and you’re unlikely to feel more inspired to haul yourself off the couch if it also means having to spend time with someone you’re not terribly fond of. So while you needn’t necessarily pair up with your best friend, it’s important to pick someone you like, so that you’re at least motivated to spend time with them if all else fails.
Make Fitness A Priority in Your Partnership
It’s vital that you pick a partner who’s as committed as you are to following this path – perhaps even more so. You want someone who will drag you out of bed, force your shoes onto your feet and push you out the door when you won’t yourself. So don’t compromise when it comes to the selection process – someone who halfheartedly agrees to accompany you as a favour is of no use to you. You both need to be in it to win it, or everybody loses.