Setting off on a journey to improved health and fitness can be challenging. Finding ways to make that journey maintainable and enjoyable is key. By having a workout partner, you can increase your level of motivation and the likelihood of sticking to your workout plan.
Whether your partner is your spouse, a best friend or a relative doesn’t matter- what matters is that you have one. By nature, we as humans tend to feel more responsible for coming through on something when we have shared that thing with others; fitness is no exception.
So what exactly is it about having a workout partner that increases our motivation to get it done? Several research studies have been done on the correlation between having a workout buddy and the positive effects that result.
Here’s what they’ve found:
1. Decreased Perception of Exhaustion: In a study done by a Kinesiology Professor at Kansas State University (1), individual’s perception of tStaying motivatedheir own exhaustion is greater when working out alone. Often referred to as the Kohler Effect, the concept says that people work harder when they are in a group versus when they are working alone. This applies to all areas of life, not just fitness, but certainly applies to working out, too. Think back to a time where you took a run by yourself and then a run with your friend. Chances are you covered the same distance faster with your friend who is a faster runner (read: “If he/she can keep running, so can I"). Motivation is contagious.
2. Increased Accountability & Encouragement: Having friends who check in with you to make sure you worked out is shown to increase your commitment levels. In a study done in 2007 by a Stanford University Professor, exercise levels quadrupled amongst the study population that worked out with others or in a group. When an individual experiences a lag in motivation, joining an exercise group is highly recommended to re-light the workout fire.
Research studies aside, working out with someone else is just plain fun. Laughing through a workout can make an exercise session seem a lot less mundane. Knowing you have someone else depneding on you greatly increases your likelihood of showing up; we don’t want to stand up our friends. If you just head to the gym on your own, nobody will know either way whether you show up or not. Having a workout partner isn’t for everyone, but the research doesn’t lie.
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