Friends with ben­e­fits

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

ICHELLE OBAMA re­cently shared a pic­ture of her­self work­ing out with her friends. She ac­com­pa­nied the so­cial me­dia post with a note about how she and her ‘crew’ make time to come to­gether and ex­er­cise as a group.

Im­plor­ing us to work out with those close to us, former US First Lady Michelle ac­com­pa­nied the im­ages with a post ex­plain­ing why and what ben­e­fits their group work­outs have:

“My girl­friends have been there for me through all kinds of life tran­si­tions over the years – in­clud­ing a pretty big one re­cently! And we’ve done our best to stay healthy to­gether.

“Whether it’s a boot­camp or a walk around the neigh­bor­hood, I hope you and your crew can find some time this sum­mer to be healthy to­gether.”

Michelle is no stranger to be­ing at the fore­front of public health agen­das. With this se­ries of so­cial me­dia im­ages, she has again hit the nail on the head in terms of fit­ness in­spi­ra­tion.

I’m a great advocate of ex­er­cis­ing with fam­ily and friends. This isn’t just per­sonal opin­ion. Michelle’s mes­sage un­der­lines what re­cent sci­en­tific stud­ies show – that ex­er­cis­ing to­gether re­ally does have an ef­fect on your ac­tiv­ity lev­els. THE re­search, by the Uni­ver­sity of Aberdeen, shows that when peo­ple ex­er­cise with a com­pan­ion, the amount of ex­er­cise they do in­creases.

Ex­er­cis­ing with a friend is also a great mo­ti­va­tor – some­times it can be hard to fin­ish a stren­u­ous work­out alone. Also, when you’re not re­ally feel­ing the gym, your train­ing part­ner is the one who en­cour­ages you to get your train­ers on.

Psy­chol­o­gists at Stony Brook Uni­ver­sity (New York) have found that mo­ti­va­tional sup­port from those clos­est to us has the most pos­i­tive ef­fect on ex­er­cise lev­els.

This is fur­ther sup­ported by a Bri­tish study which found 64% of women pushed them­selves fur­ther when they had a train­ing part­ner.

At Life Leisure, we some­times see peo­ple drop out of classes af­ter a few ses­sions – feed­back is usu­ally lack of mo­ti­va­tion or con­fi­dence.

How­ever, when we see peo­ple who come with their friends, the dropout rate is re­duced.

Peo­ple who train to­gether form a group iden­tity, so they no longer feel alone.

Ready to take on the chal­lenge to­gether? Think you might be more mo­ti­vated by not go­ing it alone? Then here are a few tips to get started: Re­cruit a friend, fam­ily mem­ber or col­league and train one-on-one or at­tend class to­gether. This pro­vides you with the mo­ti­va­tion and sup­port to de­velop a sus­tain­able ex­er­cise regime, and the con­fi­dence to at­tend new classes or at­tempt new dis­ci­plines. It’s a good idea to buddy up with some­one who has the same fit­ness goals as you. Just like Michelle Obama, work­ing out in a friends/fam­ily group can have added ben­e­fits. You don’t all need to be at the same fit­ness level (work­ing out with peo­ple a lit­tle fit­ter than you ac­tu­ally makes you work harder), but it will help if you’re mostly avail­able at the same time and like to do the same things. Work­ing out as a group means that if one or two peo­ple can’t make it, you’re still mo­ti­vated to get out and ex­er­cise. It also means you can share court or trainer costs. Do you find it hard to fit in ex­er­cise and spend time to­gether as a cou­ple? You might not do the same work­out, but ex­er­cis­ing along­side each other can help you to sup­port each other’s’ fit­ness goals. If you’re prone to bick­er­ing, it might be bet­ter to find a friend to take and not your other half!

Find­ing time to ex­er­cise and keep the kids happy can be hard, so why not take up an ac­tiv­ity that ev­ery­one can get in­volved in? Pro­vid­ing pos­i­tive sup­port and en­cour­age­ment to your chil­dren will strengthen your fa­mil­ial bonds, in­crease their self-con­fi­dence and teach them good habits that they will take into adult­hood.

If you don’t know any­one who shares your goals, then group classes present the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to make new friends that do. It may be scary at first, but you’ll find peo­ple who are there by them­selves who you can buddy up with, es­pe­cially if you join a be­gin­ners’ class. Class lead­ers will also be happy to buddy you up with a friendly reg­u­lar.

Whether you team up with a fam­ily mem­ber, part­ner, best buddy or some­one new, get­ting a fit­ness friend will help you find ex­er­cis­ing more fun.

It’ll en­cour­age you to keep go­ing and do more – boost­ing both your men­tal and phys­i­cal health. So what are you wait­ing for? Let’s get fit­ter to­gether!

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