by Will Gardner, HBF Health Services Consultant

Exercising with a friend

We all know that there are many physical and mental benefits of being physically active. But how can we break down the barriers that prevent us from exercising more regularly?

One of the best ways to get back into exercise or to keep active in the long-term is to do it with a friend. Numerous studies (like this research conducted by Kansas State University) have confirmed that exercise is greatly enhanced when you are with a buddy or in a group setting.

So why not stack the odds in your favour! Here are a number of benefits to illustrate that doing it together, is better:

1. Accountability – when you have someone counting on you, you are far less likely to bail on a workout. Making plans to meet your friend at 6pm is much more concrete than vaguely planning to exercise alone “some time after work”. Set a date and don’t be late!

2. Exercise becomes more fun – a key element in forming a lifestyle habit is fun. It’s always more enjoyable to share an experience with a friend. It also allows you try out other activities. After all, it’s pretty hard to play a game of tennis by yourself.

3. You tend to get more out of the session – you’ll work that bit harder when exercising with a partner. It can bring out a competitive instinct that allows you both to push your limits. You’re more likely to do that extra set or an extra kilometre when you’re being spurred on.

4. Safety – this mainly applies to strength training, but having a partner means that you will always have a spotter. This will help you through final reps and they can keep a close eye on your technique.

5. You are more likely to try new things – ever wanted to try Zumba or a boxing class but felt intimidated going there alone? With a partner your excuses are now removed. It opens up all sorts of possibilities to new forms of exercise.

6. Reduced costs – that personal training session or tennis lesson instantly became cheaper for both of you! And, you’ll still get plenty of individual attention from the trainer or coach.

7. Social well-being – social interaction is often listed as an important factor for many people when choosing exercise. Training with a partner gives you that social contact that is often non-existent when going solo.

8. Shared goals – if two of you are working towards a common goal, it helps to build more resolve and resilience. It’s a fantastic feeling to achieve a goal, and it can be even better when you achieve it with someone else.

The content of this article is not tailored for any particular individual’s circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.