The Benefits of a Fitness Partner
by Krisha McCoy, MS
If you have a hard time getting motivated to exercise, enlisting a fitness partner may help. A fitness partner can encourage, challenge, pace you, and can make working out more fun. When you are trying to find the right person, there are some things that you should look for. Moreover, there are some fun ways you and your fitness partner can get some exercise.
The Benefits of a Fitness Partner
Having a fitness partner can motivate you to workout even when you do not want to simply because you know someone is counting on you. Exercising with a fitness partner is also a great way to socialize. Instead of dreading your daily workout, you will find yourself looking forward to catching up with your friend.
Another benefit is that a fitness partner makes it less intimidating to join a gym, try a new class, or learn a new sport. Your friend can give you the courage to take that kickboxing class you have had your eye on or head to that hiking trail you have always wanted to try.
Finally, it is safer to workout with someone. If you injure yourself on a run, for instance, your partner can find you the help you need.
Choosing a Fitness Partner
While the right fitness partner can motivate you to accomplish your fitness goals, the wrong partner could squelch your efforts. When deciding which one of your friends or family members to recruit as your fitness partner, keep these things in mind:
Working Out With a Fitness Partner
Once you have found the right fitness partner, it is time to get moving. Get together with your partner—calendars in hand—and schedule when and where you will meet to regularly exercise. Then, set some ground rules and stick to them.
Agree upon a cancellation policy, just as you would for a doctor’s appointment or hotel reservation. If one of you cannot make it for a scheduled workout, select a time limit (24 hours ahead, for example) that you will have to cancel in advance. Also, figure out how you will decide what activities to do. For example, you could design this week’s exercise schedule, and your partner could design next week’s, and so on.
Now it is time to enjoy the benefits of a fitness partner. Besides having someone to chat with on your walking path, a fitness partner can encourage you to participate in workouts that you would not do otherwise. You can mix up your workout schedule by adding partner-focused activities such as tennis (it is not as much fun playing against a backboard), rock climbing (you will need someone on the ground for safety), or basketball (what is more fun than a game of one-on-one?).
Ask your partner to teach you some activities she has mastered and share your skills as well. With a fitness partner, you can quickly add variety to your fitness routine, which will go a long way to keeping you motivated to become fit and stay that way.
American College of Sports Medicine
The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Canadian Association of Family Physicians
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How can I overcome barriers to physical activity? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/physical. Accessed September 16, 2003.
How can physical activity become a part of life? American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable. Accessed September 16, 2003.
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