4 reasons why to have a workout buddy
August 15, 2016
When 44-year-old Beth Bershader first began exploring easy day hikes with her husband, Keith, in the 1990s, she never could have imagined they would climb the 100 highest peaks in Colorado. Every single one.
The Bershaders conquered their 100th summit in September as they had all the others — together. And although Bershader acknowledges their passion for climbing 13,000- and 14,000-foot mountain peaks is extreme, she also says it didn't happen overnight. "We started out by taking walks, then short hikes," she says. "Having each other was encouraging and motivating to us."
Kayla Harris, Kaiser Permanente workforce health consultant, says the Bershaders' partnership illustrates what experts have been telling us for years: Having an exercise buddy can help make fitness a habit. "If you are exercising on your own, you might be defeated by not even wanting to put on your workout clothes," Harris says.
Here are a few reasons why having a workout buddy works:
1. It keeps you accountable. An exercise partner can motivate you to reach your goal.
2. It encourages social interaction. "Exercising with someone else provides time to build a relationship that you otherwise might not have because life is so busy," Bershader says.
3. It's more enjoyable. Whether trying Zumba, or yoga, or simply walking after work, friends add fun. "This may motivate us to exercise for longer durations," Harris says.
4. It builds camaraderie. It's more meaningful to have someone to share in your successes.
FINDING A BUDDY AND MAKING IT WORK
If exercising with a spouse isn't an option, you can invite a neighbor, ask around at the gym, or join a cycling, walking, or climbing club to find a fitness companion. Then, try these tips for making the most of the partnership.
Start at similar fitness levels. "If you don't have the same abilities, you'll be pulling in separate directions," Harris says.
Set a goal together. "Maybe you both want to train for a 5K," Harris says. "Or you both just want to work exercise into your workday."
Make sure your schedules mesh. "If one loves to exercise at 5 a.m. and the other at 6 p.m., it may be time to find a different partner," Harris says.
Have a "bailout agreement." Setting ground rules for when it's OK and not OK to cancel a workout "helps keep the 'I don't feel like exercising' excuses to a minimum," Harris says.
With a mountain of milestones under their collective belt, it will be tough for the Bershaders to top 14,000-foot peaks, but they are sure they'll reach greater heights. "Trying new things keeps us young," Bershader says. "We share this passion and adventure together, and that helps us have a healthy relationship."