Of all the blessing in life from God, the gift of friendship, especially fitness buddies, should not be overlooked. During an eight-week study, research found that people who exercised with a partner did more exercise during the brief study. Other research has found that if you find a partner, you will stick with the exercise routine even six months later. With every blessed mile, friends have walked, run, biked and exercised shoulder to shoulder with every wellness success. What if you could double your chances for fitness success and exercise would be more enjoyable, fit into your schedule, and pull you through the fitness rut? Proverbs 18:24 states: “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Reliable friends can be the difference between your exercise habit success or failure.
Start with a collaborative arrangement that works for you! Over the years, I have not limited myself to one fitness partnership—walking and meetings with a colleague, running with a group, or taking a group exercise class. Here are some suggestions to assist with finding your fitness match for SUCCESS:
Similar fitness levels. I have a close friend who wins marathons. Needless to say, I’m not near her fitness level; however, we do meet at the local track weekly for a speed training session. We run our intervals trying to beat our own stopwatch time. She makes a torturous workout pleasurable as we breathlessly catch up during our interval recovery time. You don’t have to have a perfectly matched fitness level, but similar fitness goals so you won’t be held back, pushed too hard or even injured.
Utilize group exercise classes. I have been teaching the same Tuesday and Thursday lunch time fitness classes for over 10 years. I am amazed at the physical barriers my class participants have crossed just being encouraged by a familiar face. The group promotes the healthy behavior as a community. We finish the bootcamp class with high-5’s around the room. It closes the workout with a feeling: “We’re all in this together.” Find a class! Better yet, find a friend to take the class with you!
Couple time. In the past year, my husband and I have taken weekly times to walk together. Besides maintaining fitness, it has improved our marriage and parenting communication. A study by the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University surveyed married couples who joined health clubs together and found that couples who worked out separately had a 43 percent drop-out rate over the course of a year. Those who went to the gym together, regardless of whether they focused on the same type of exercise, had only a 6.3 percent drop-out rate.
Commitment Send reminder texts or emails, pre-arrange rides to the gym, offer wake-up calls if necessary. Be on time–always! My running friends text me their route if I happen to be delayed! We also keep tabs on each other through illness, travel and other routine-breakers to help encourage them to come back after a setback.
Encourage. My bucket list fitness successes are largely due to my fitness comrades that have been my teammates, coaches and cheerleaders. Remind your companion of their goals and encourage them when the going gets rough. If your workout partner is down all the time and complaining, you will eventually lose motivation. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Simultaneous Social time. When being physically active, I have found myself connecting with friends, coworkers and workout friends more than I do over coffee. Why not invite a friend or family member with whom you want to connect for a walk? Workout sidekicks not only get us through a hill workout, but can also help us through the hills and valleys of life.
Suggest new ideas and routines to keep things interesting and prevent plateaus.
My fitness comrades have changed over the years, but they will always have a place in my heart. God give us friends for our challenges; we don’t have go alone! Proverbs 13:20 states: “Walk with the wise and become wise.”
Sherry is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer and Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. You can read more active devotions written by Sherry on her blog Trimom4Him.wordpress.com.