For most people, they know of the benefits of exercise–but making it a habit is easier said than done.
But now new research presented to the American Public Health Association says there’s a new way to stay motivated: Exercise with friends.
“They’re probably more likely to maintain the activity if they’re outdoors in green spaces with people, than if they’re home alone,” says Genevieve Dunton, an assistant professor of research at the University of Southern California’s Department of Preventative Medicine. “It could be that people go certain places, and spend time with certain people, when they’re already feeling happy.”
Studying a group of 117 people between ages 27 to 73, researchers instructed them to carry mobile phones with them for a total of four days. During that time, researchers randomly messaged people asking them what they were doing, who they were with, and what their surroundings looked like.
They also probed them about their happiness levels–namely, how happy they were doing their current activity.
During the study, 84 people reported being physically active–and it appears being with others influenced how happy it made them feel.
“Those doing physical activity were happier, and enjoyed the physical activity more, when they were with their spouse, friends or co-workers, compared with when they were alone, according to the findings,” says Rachael Rettner, a contributor to LiveScience. “People also said they were happier when they were exercising outdoors in green areas.”
This hasn’t been the first time researchers have established a link between exercise motivation and workout partners. Earlier in May, a study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that people who exercised with someone of a higher fitness level exercised harder–whereas those matched with someone who wasn’t as active didn’t work out as hard.
“Results indicated that participants in the high fit condition exercised harder than those in the low fit condition,” say the authors of the study. “Social comparison theory was used to examine if exercising with a research confederate posing as either high fit or low fit would increase the exertion in exercising.”
What You Can Learn From This Study
While it hasn’t been the first time it’s been proven, research now confirms the best way to get fit: Exercise with a partner. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done–especially if many of your friends prefer to be sedentary instead.
So how do you find a partner?
“Familiarity has a way of making people feel comfortable, so it won’t seem odd if you strike up a conversation with someone you see regularly in class,” says POPSugar, a fitness website. “I used to go to the same yoga class every week and eventually became friends with a classmate. In no time, we were sharing rides to the studio and dinner afterwards.”
But if you don’t go to a fitness class, there are other ways as well, according to POPSugar–such as joining an exercise group or signing up for group lessons. While it may be intimidating to meet up with a stranger at first, the anxiety should fade–and you’ll soon feel more motivated to boot.
“Encouraging words are often all it takes to push a fitness routine further or try harder,” says POPSugar.
Readers: How else do you motivate yourself to exercise?
Study: Exercising With a Partner Boost Motivation – PsychologyToday.com
Exercising With a Partner Has Long Term Benefits – MedicalDaily.com
How to Find a Workout Partner – FitSugar.com
Exercising With Friends Outdoors Makes Working Out More Fun – MedicalDaily.com