It seems like a no-brainer: if you want to increase the odds you’ll stick with your plan to work out regularly, then you should get a workout partner — someone to hold you accountable.
If I tell you I’m going to get down to FIT Academy for Yoga before sunrise, I might show up and I might not. But if I promise to meet you there, I’ll probably roll my butt out of bed and go do it.
Workout buddies work.
Here’s something you may not know, though:
A study at the University of Aberdeen found there’s something a workout buddy can do for you that’s even more important than showing up on time or holding you accountable.
Take a guess. What do you think it is?
The University of Aberdeen Exercise Partner Study
Dr Pamela Rackow from the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen knew it was helpful to get a workout buddy. Earlier studies revealed that people go the gym more often when an exercise companion agrees to go too.
What Dr. Rackow didn’t know, however, was which qualities one should look for in a gym buddy.
- Do you want to choose someone who’ll get upset if you miss a session?
- Do you want a workout partner who knows how to work all the machines and which free weight exercises are best?
- Should you get a workout partner who works harder than you, so you’re encouraged to keep up?
All of that sounds good … right? Well, assuming you want to make the most of your gym time, it does. Rackow’s study, carried out at the University of Zurich, pointed to gym buddy character trait even more important than discipline or knowledge, though.
It turns out the most important quality you can look for in a workout buddy is compassion. Here’s what Dr. Rackow discovered:
“People exercised more when their companion offered emotional support and encouragement and rather than practical support like never missing a session.”
But that’s not the end of the surprise.
Not only is emotional support the most important factor. Your workout buddy doesn’t have to work out with you — or maybe even go the gym with you. Your buddy’s biggest job is encouragement, and that can happen outside of the gym.
Here’s what Dr. Pamela Rackow said:
The emotional social support from the new sports companion was the most effective. Thus, it is more important to encourage each other than in doing the actual activity together.
Do you have people on your side? Does your spouse encourage your desire to get or stay fit? Do your friends want you to succeed?
I hope so. But not all of us are so fortunate.
There are times when others feel threatened by our desire for health. They think we’re making them look bad … and that can mean negativity instead of encouragement.
If that’s you, please get a gym buddy.
And if that’s not you, please get a gym buddy.
Encourage one another!