A new exercise buddy may give you that extra motivation to keep going, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
The findings show that participants who added a new exercise companion to their workout routine spent more time working out, compared to those who did not find a new partner. These benefits increased even more when the new partner was emotionally supportive.
The study is the first to investigate the benefits of a new exercise companion and to look into the specific qualities in a partner that make a good “gym buddy.”
For the study, the researchers asked half of the participants to find a new gym buddy and told the other half to continue with their normal exercise routine. The findings reveal that the participants who found a new workout partner exercised more than those who followed their regular exercise routine on their own.
“The idea of this study was to test in a very natural setting what is happening when two people get together with the aim to exercise more,” said Dr. Pamela Rackow from the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen.
“I had read motivation tips in a leaflet that suggested that having an exercise companion would help me to exercise more but I wanted to know if this was true.”
“This study is unique in that it reflects natural life relatively well because when you decide to exercise with a friend — you ask someone in your normal social network regardless of whether they fit certain criteria or not. ”
The researchers also set out to investigate what qualities make a good partner. Participants were asked to rate how supportive their partners were and what kind of support they found most effective.
The researchers divided support into two types: emotional and instrumental. They found that participants exercised more when their companion offered emotional support and encouragement, rather than just practical support like never missing a session.
“Once we found that having a new exercise companion increases exercise frequency we wanted to find out why this is beneficial and what quality of support they offer that has this effect,” said Rackow.
“Our results showed that the emotional social support from the new sports companion was the most effective. Thus, it is more important to encourage each other than doing the actual activity together. ”
Source: University of Aberdeen