Today Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickLindfield and Balmain look at the various benefits of exercising with others for your home program!

As we have discussed last week, any of our clients know that having individualised sessions with an EP is the best way to ensure that they are receiving the most effective treatment in terms of receiving exercise prescription, monitoring, supervision, progression and motivation. However, a large part of exercise physiology is promoting independence and behaviour change, which includes not only seeing your EP for sessions, but also performing exercise on your own—which is where most people struggle. Your EP will certainly provide a home program for you, but it is up to you to implement and adhere to it; in fact, this is essential to achieve the total exercise volume outlined by the ACSM guidelines.

A great way to accomplish is to involve your friends and family. Whether it’s by going on a walk with them, performing your own separate routines together, or challenging them to do your home program, research has shown that the healthy actions of others rub off on us. Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of exercising with others:

1) Greater commitment

If you have arranged to meet a friend for a walk at the park or you are picking them up to go exercise at the park, you will be far more likely to adhere to your exercise plans. Not wanting to let a friend or family down is a greater motivator to stick to your exercise plans. Furthermore, on the days where you feel lethargic or do not feel like doing your home program, having a companion there to motivate and support you may just be the extra push you need to adhere to your exercise.

2) Greater accountability

If you miss an exercise session with your friend, they will be calling you up and asking you why. This is not something most people want to deal with, especially when you might need to make some sort of excuse. Of course, there may be some days where we genuinely cannot exercise or are too busy, but your partner will naturally have a mental track record of your attendance in their head. Once again, this will motivate you to exercise consistently.

3) More likely to succeed in your goals

Having someone to exercise with can they keep you dedicated towards your goals, but when seeing someone else achieve their goals is also a huge motivator for you to reach yours. A 2016 study published in the journal Obesity found that overweight people tend to lose more weight if they spend time with their physically active friends; that is, the more time they spend together, the more weight they lose.

4) Motivation during harder exercise

Exercising with a friend who is around the same fitness level as you means that you are more likely to encourage each other and to push a little harder (for instance, to increase intensity or duration of a run) than you might do on your own. A friend can also bring out your competitive side and spur you on. If you are feeling fatigued or lethargic that day, the sight of your friend powering on might be just the incentive you need to keep going.

5) Build greater relationships

When you exercise with your friends or family, you are essentially working at your health goals together. It is a great opportunity for you to catch up, have a laugh and encourage each other, while also improving your health at the same time—a win-win. This creates a sense of bonding and has great benefits for both your physical and psychosocial health.

6) Exercise becomes more enjoyable

Chatting with your partner during exercise and rest periods can help pass time much quicker than if you were on your own. Not only are you enjoying the time spent with another person, but having another person there keeps your mind off the duration or intensity of exercise. That 3km run now might feel like a 500m run instead. Holding those stretches might not feel so long anymore. Instead, getting your 150 minutes of exercise a week becomes much easier.

7) Exchange of exercise ideas

If you and your friend are seeing health practitioners, both of you may have picked up some tips and tricks about exercise that could benefit each other. Maybe your EP has mentioned a tip about running form that your partner might benefit from. In return, they show you a new exercise from their physio that helps improve your core strength. This exchange of knowledge not only builds upon both your health knowledge but can also introduce EP services to friends or family which they can benefit from.

8) Safety

When you are not in session with your exercise physiologist, it is useful to have someone there to make sure you are in a safe environment when exercising in your own time. For example, some of our clients who have busy workdays prefer to go for a jog at night-time. Having a partner come along with you will definitely make things safer and it means that you will have help at hand if anything goes wrong (e.g. injury).

Written by Jackie Cheung

Reference

Andersson, M., & Christakis, N. (2016). Desire for weight loss, weight-related social contact, and body mass outcomes. Obesity24(7), 1434-1437. doi: 10.1002/oby.21512