The Benefits of a Fitness Partner
If you have a hard time getting motivated to exercise, enlisting a fitness partner may help. A fitness partner can encourage, challenge, pace you, and can make working out more fun.
When you are trying to find the right person, there are some things that you should look for. Moreover, there are some fun ways you and your fitness partner can get some exercise.
The Benefits of a Fitness Partner
A recent study found that new mothers who had fitness partners got more exercise than mothers with no partner support. Another study suggested that college students were significantly more likely to be active if they had the social support of their friends and/or family.
A third study found that just a phone call might help motivate someone to exercise more. People who received motivating phone calls were more likely to increase their level of physical activity after three months than people who didn’t receive the calls.
Why are people more likely to exercise if they have a supporter?
Having a fitness partner can motivate you to workout even when you don’t want to simply because you know someone is counting on you. Exercising with a fitness partner is also a great way to socialize. Instead of dreading your daily workout, you’ll find yourself looking forward to catching up with your friend.
Another benefit is that a fitness partner makes it less intimidating to join a gym, try a new class, or learn a new sport. Your friend can give you the courage to take that kickboxing class you’ve had your eye on or head to that hiking trail you’ve always wanted to try.
Finally, it’s safer to workout with someone. If you injure yourself on a run, for instance, your partner can find you the help you need.
Choosing a Fitness Partner
While the right fitness partner can motivate you to accomplish your fitness goals, the wrong partner could squelch your efforts. When deciding which one of your friends or family members to recruit as your fitness partner, keep these things in mind:
- Choose a partner with a fitness level similar to yours. If you haven’t exercised for years, don’t choose a fitness partner who runs four miles a day. If you and your partner have similar fitness levels, you can progress at a similar pace and encourage each other as you become more fit.
- Find someone who shares your fitness goals. By finding someone with similar fitness goals, you can help motivate each other and share your triumphs. If, on the other hand, you are looking to gain muscle and your partner is looking to slim down, or if you want to lose 30 pounds and your partner only needs to lose five, you and your partner may become frustrated and be more likely to give up.
- Make sure you have things in common with your partner—even outside of the gym. If all you have in common with your fitness partner is working out, you may not find yourself looking forward to your next workout. Choose someone who’s company you genuinely enjoy, and you’ll find that workouts can be as socially fulfilling as they are physically challenging.
Working Out With a Fitness Partner
Once you’ve found the right fitness partner, it’s time to get moving. Get together with your partner—calendars in hand—and schedule when and where you’ll meet to regularly exercise. Then, set some ground rules and stick to them.
Agree upon a cancellation policy, just as you would for a doctor’s appointment or hotel reservation. If one of you can’t make it for a scheduled workout, select a time limit (24 hours ahead, for example) that you will have to cancel in advance. Also, figure out how you will decide what activities to do. For example, you could design this week’s exercise schedule, and your partner could design next week’s, and so on.
Now it’s time to enjoy the benefits of a fitness partner. Besides having someone to chat with on your walking path, a fitness partner can encourage you to participate in workouts that you wouldn’t do otherwise. You can mix up your workout schedule by adding partner-focused activities such as tennis (it’s not as much fun playing against a backboard), rock climbing (you’ll need someone on the ground for safety), or basketball (what's more fun than a game of one-on-one?).
Ask your partner to teach you some activities he or she has mastered and share your skills as well. With a fitness partner, you can quickly add variety to your fitness routine, which will go a long way to keeping you motivated to become fit and stay that way.
American College of Sports Medicine
The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Canadian Association of Family Physicians
Canadian Public Health
Active at any size. Weight Control Information Network website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/nutrit . Accessed September 16, 2003.
How can I overcome barriers to physical activity? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical . Accessed September 16, 2003.
How can physical activity become a part of life? American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable . Accessed September 16, 2003.
Miller YD, Trost SG, Brown WJ. Mediators of physical activity behavior change among women with young children. Am J Prev Med. 2002;23:98-103.
Pinto BM, Friedman MD, Marcus BH, et al. Effects of a computer-based, telephone-counseling system on physical activity. Am J Prev Med. 2002;23:113-120.
Wallace LP, Buckworth J, Kirby TE, et al. Characteristics of exercise behavior among college students: application of social cognitive theory to predicting stage of change. Am J Prev Med. 2000;31:494-505.
Last reviewed January 2009 by ]]>Robert Leach, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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