Ready to make your next sweat session way more social? Here are seven reasons why a workout buddy is just what the doctor ordered.
1. You’ll Be Even More Committed to Your Goals
Research has found that more than 50 percent of people who start exercising as a New Year’s resolution end up quitting by summer. But are you really going to skip out on your yoga class if a friend is saving a mat for you at the studio? Dr. Tanaka says that exercise partners provide great motivation to adhere to workout goals.
Indeed, other research has shown that working out with a friend (even virtually) pushes people to keep at it longer than they would on their own.
2. You’ll Be Less Likely to Get Bored and Quit
It’s easy to get caught in an exercise rut. But research from Scotland suggests that putting a friend into the mix can increase the amount of exercise you do. In a study published in April 2015 in the British Journal of Health Psychology, researchers found that the emotional support of someone you trust can serve as powerful reinforcement for fitness goals.
3. It’ll Help You Feel Less Stressed
We often rely on family and friends to help us get through stressful periods in life. But a partner may also help alleviate stress in exercise environments. In a small study published November 2017 in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, group exercise participants reported a 26.2 percent reduction in perceived stress levels, which was more than study participants who exercised on their own. That’s in addition to the fact that exercise (with or without a friend) provides stress relief, pumps your body with feel-good endorphins, and improves your mood, according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. You’ll Push Yourself to Work Harder
In a study published in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, researchers reviewed data from high school track relays and found that inferior athletes made greater gains compared with the top ones when everyone had to perform as part of a team. The researchers were looking to test the Köhler effect, a psychological theory that says motivation increases among individuals working in groups in comparison with individuals working alone, according to the American Psychological Association.
Other research shows this effect has also been seen in adults doing strength exercises; study participants worked harder (holding a plank position for longer) when working out with a partner than they did when doing planks on their own.
5. It Might Help You Stick to Your Weight Loss Goals
According to previous research that focused on a group made up mostly of female African American participants, a successful group effort may help you lose more weight than when you go solo. Study participants who tried to lose weight with the help of family or friends who were also trying to lose weight (everyone participated in a program that involved counseling sessions, dietary changes, and a physical activity program) tended to be more successful than those doing the program on their own.
This may be more evidence that surrounding yourself with motivated people who are working toward achieving their goals can help you stick to yours.
6. It’s Usually Safer
If you’re lifting weights, having a partner to spot you (which means they’re ready to assist you if you have trouble lifting heavy weight) can indeed be safer than doing it alone. “There is no question [it’s safer to work with a partner] if you’re inclined to work out with free weights,” says Tanaka. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, using a spotter when working with heavy weights maximizes safety and decreases the risk of injury.
There’s also safety in numbers when you’re out on a run: According to the Road Runners Club of America, running with others increases your safety.
7. You May Even Live a Few Years Longer
If your fitness routine is a social endeavor, it may contribute to your longevity, according to a large study that followed nearly 9,000 people over the course of 25 years. The findings, published in September 2018 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that individuals who participated in group sports with more social interactions, like tennis and soccer, lived a few years longer on average than those who participated in solo fitness endeavors such as cycling or jogging.