It wasn’t until she was 60 that Ginny Hlavenka, of Holmdel, NJ, got in shape. “I never thought exercise was for me. I found it boring and could never stick with it for more than a few weeks at a time.”
Until her friend invited her to tag along at a water aerobics class. “The class was hard, but it was also enjoyable. My friend and I were laughing throughout the hour. I got exercise and had fun at the same time, something I thought was impossible.”
Ginny returned to the class with her friend the next week. And the next one, and the one after that. In fact, Ginny and her group of friends have been attending the same water aerobics class for the past five years.
Friends and benefits
Ginny’s experience is hardly unique. Many studies show that workout buddies are good for health and fitness. Exercising with a friend can:
· Hold you accountable. Ginny says, “I’m not sure I’d enjoy water aerobics if I took it at another gym. My friends and the instructor are what really make it for me. After a long day at work, I often consider skipping, but I know everyone is counting on me to show up, so I go.” People who work out with friends are more likely to stick with their fitness regimens because someone is counting on them. This can help you lose weight or meet other goals faster.
· Add years to your life. Exercise, in general, is good for your health, but getting fit with others may be even better. Two recent studies looked at the health effects of social interaction. Results from one study showed that people who are physically active with others were more likely to report that they were in good to excellent health. The other study found that socially isolated individuals were more likely to die at younger ages.
· Boost athletic performance. For over 100 years, research has shown that athletes perform better with a group or in front of a group. Sports psychologists say that you’re more focused and less distracted by pain when you train with others. Getting fit with a training buddy and having some friendly competition can push you to be your best.
Find a fitness partner
These tips can help you find a fitness mate:
· Chat up people in group fitness classes. If you attend the same exercise classes regularly, chances are you’ll make a few friends like Ginny did. Invite them to take other classes with you, too.
· Join an intramural or athletic club. Most cities have club soccer, kickball, or softball teams. If you join a team, you’ll have organized practices and games. Or search for local running or triathlon clubs or ask a running specialty store. These groups often host regular training runs.
· Encourage your loved ones to get active with you. Catch up with your girlfriends on the elliptical trainer instead of over a glass of wine. Ask your coworkers to join you on walk instead of going out to lunch.
Do you exercise with friends? I love running with others – they really help the miles fly by!