We all know that exercise is that much easier when you’ve got company. Whether in the form of a podcast or a pal, dragging yourself through an unwanted workout is noticeably more rewarding when there’s someone by your side.
A monster study, including the data of more than a million people over a five-year period, found that not only is exercise “socially contagious” and working out with a friend pushes you harder, but also that sharing your workout with a friend who’s just starting out is actually more motivating to your own progress.
“People who are less active influence people who are more active with a greater magnitude than the other way around. Couch potatoes influence marathoners more than marathoners influence couch potatoes,” explains Sinan Aral, the David Austin Professor of Management at MIT.
“People who are less active influence people who are more active with a greater magnitude than the other way around.”
Tracking specifically those who use fitness trackers and share their results either through the same technology or with friends face-to-face, the study concluded that sharing motivates people to push themselves harder.
If you’ve delayed finding a workout buddy, get onto it. Your regime will thank you for it, Sinan says.
“Get friends who are improving their own health behaviours, because the greatest marginal benefits will come from those friends who themselves are committed to doing better each day,” adds Sinan. “If you link up with a friend who is perhaps exercising less and less each day, then that will have a diminishing effect on your exercise behaviour.”