Exercise Loves Company

Let’s create a new expression:

Misery Exercise loves company.

Making exercise social is a great way to ensure it becomes a habit that sticks. I was reminded of this when I met my tennis team for an end-of-the-season party this week. Not only has this group of women been supportive during matches, especially my trademark lengthy ones, but also of of my Spartan racing and professional ambitions. Even outside of my own team, I have developed quality friendships with women I have competed against! When I participated in a Deepak Chopra meditation series this spring, he suggested the following as one means of achieving perfect health:

We are social creatures, who thrive in community. Connecting with one another allows us to express our most heartfelt hopes and dreams and be of service to one another. Our supportive relationships enhance the positive messages we send our bodies each day and invite better health and wellbeing into our lives.   

According to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, even introverts benefit from relationships with others:

No matter what they’re doing, people tend to feel happier when they’re with other people. ….whether you are exercising, commuting, or doing housework, everything is more fun in company. This is true not just of extroverts, but, perhaps surprisingly, of introverts as well.

If Deepak and Oprah haven’t yet convinced you, here are a few other reasons you should consider joining a team, taking a class or meeting a friend to exercise.

Fun! A 20-mile training run is loads more fun when you can converse with others versus lament over the pain. The joys of conversation extend far beyond running, however.

Accountability: Friends hold you accountable, plain and simple. If you are supposed to meet someone else at a certain time to run, hit tennis balls, go for a bike ride or play soccer, you are far more likely to show up and follow through.

Camaraderie: If you know your teammates are counting on you, then you’ll try that much harder to perform well. And who would do 125 burpees on your own? Others in a boot camp class motivate you to keep trying.

Less work: Not only does conversation and laughter making working out more fun, but it makes it seem like less work, too.  

You learn more: Ever tried to do a yoga or Pilates at home by yourself, following a class on TV or instructions online? There are many benefits to carrying out these activities with instructors who can demonstrate poses. Minor adjustments have the potential to prevent injuries you might otherwise incur alone.

2-4-1:  A friend of mine once told me, “Running with friends is a “two for one.” It improves your health and social life – all at the same time.”

Competition:  A little friendly competition never hurt anyone! A colleague recently shared that the success of her company’s wellness program was in large part due to the social nature of the programs implemented. By tracking everyone’s results and comparing them to one another, employees were more motivated to stay fit and stick with the program.   Though there are times when exercise should and must be solo, don’t count out the possibility of experiencing fitness with others. It may just be the kick in the pants you need to keep at it – for life.

Melinda Hinson