Of all God’s blessings in life, 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. 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 and failure. 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.
Similarfitness 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 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 boot camp class with high 5s 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 time 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 dropout 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 dropout rate.
Commitment. Send reminder texts or emails, prearrange rides to the gym, offer wake-up calls, if necessary. Be on time-always! My running friends texts 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 ist 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, complaining, you will eventually lose motivation. I 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 have wanted to connect, for a walk? Workout sidekicks not only get us through a hill workout, but can help us through the hills and valleys in life also.
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 gave us friends for our challenges; we don’t have to go alone! Proverbs 13:20 states, “Walk with the wise and become wise.”
You can learn more about Sherry and read more active devotions on her blog Trimom4Him.wordpress.com.
Research – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25854295