As you’ll no doubt know, one of the best ways to get the most out of your workout is to do it with a friend. Not only does exercising with a partner or friend give you a motivational boost, but time at the gym always seems to go by quicker when you’ve got company. However, if anecdotal evidence isn’t enough to convince you of this, there is now scientific proof of the benefits of exercising with a partner.
A new study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine has found that couples who work together to change an unhealthy habit are more likely to be successful at it. The researchers from University College London (UCL) reported that 49% of smokers successfully quit if their partner joined them, while 66.5% of people managed to more regularly engage in physical activity. Additionally, 25% even managed to successfully lose weight thanks to the support of their partner. These results suggest that perhaps health programmes should target couples instead of individuals, and encourage spouses and friends to get their loved ones to exercise with them.
The authors’ conclusion that we should involve partners when changing bad habits makes a lot of sense when we consider that humans are social beings at their core. Whether it’s at the office or in the pub, we’re at our best when we can collaborate with colleagues or socialise with friends. The gym or park should be no different, and there are many ways in which you can make the experience even more rewarding.
Sometimes just the presence of your partner is enough, as the desire to not let them down motivates you to work harder or they give you a friendly, competitive push. You can turn the workout into a game, challenging your friends to see who can get in the most reps. You can even set goals and work as a team instead, with a reward in the end for completing it.
It doesn’t matter how you choose to do it but with a partner on your side, staying fit will simply be more effective and exhilarating. So, invite your spouse, friends, or even children to pop down to your local outdoor gym and treat yourself to some social workout time. Or better yet, if you know someone who is afraid to start exercising, offer to join them in their quest to get healthy. In time, they too will feel the long-term physical and emotional benefits of a friendly nudge.