Research shows that working out with a friend or partner actually increases your participation and compliance to your goals.
Interestingly, a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found it’s the emotional and social support you get from a workout companion that’s most effective. In other words, encouraging each other is more important than doing the actual activity together.
Your exercise buddy job criteria
Choosing the right workout buddy will greatly influence how much you both get out of the experience. Here are a few characteristics of a good match:
- You support and understand each other’s goals or your ‘why’ – your motivation for working out. For example, is your aim to complete an upcoming fun run, to improve overall energy, to improve self-confidence, to keep up with your kids, or improve markers of health (eg. decrease blood pressure)?
- You are available to exercise at the same time.
- You live or work in the same area.
- You are patient and compassionate towards each other. There will be days that may need to be cancelled – like if you or the kids are sick, or you’re caught back at work, or the car breaks down. A great exercise buddy can improvise with your pre-planned ‘plan B’ and will be ready and supportive to meet you next time.
- Similar fitness level and experience can be helpful, but it’s more important that you show up and support each other. Most exercises can be progressed or regressed to suit the individual. No one will ever be the same, so don’t use this as your excuse.
Before you start working out together, it’s a good idea to sit down and communicate each of your expectations for your relationship so that you’re on the same page. You can even set some agreements and decide on an initial ‘contract’ – for example, try it out for four weeks, then reassess if the arrangement is working for both of you.