Health editor Jane Druker shares the reasons why exercising together will help you get so much more from your workout
It’s no surprise that exercising with a friend is more fun, but the latest research proves that friends have a major influence on your exercise routine. Start exercising together and you’re sure to work out harder, burn more calories and try out some new moves. In fact, one study published in scientific journal Nature Communications found men are influenced by both their male and female friends, while only women influence other women when it comes to being active.
We’ve got seven reasons why you should round up your female friends and exercise together…
1. You’re more likely to show up
We’ve all been guilty of skipping gym sessions – especially when it’s a grey and wet Monday morning – but having a friend depend on you to make it can mean all the difference. A recent University of Aberdeen study found working out in pairs spurs us to exercise more, as we offer each other emotional support and encouragement. “You’re not only working out for yourself, you’re doing it for someone else too,” says Virgin Active trainer Emily Cole. “You become more accountable for your session.”
2. You’ll work 200% harder
According to a study by Kansas State University, working out with a partner increases the intensity of your workout by up to 200%. This is because we feel pushed to keep up with each other. “We found that when you’re performing with someone who you perceive as a little better than you, you tend to give more effort than you normally would alone,” says Brandon Irwin, leader of the study.
3. You’ll burn more calories
A Virgin Active study showed that women who exercise with friends burn up to 236 calories per session, compared to the 195 for women who prefer to go it alone. “You’re so much more motivated when there’s a bit of friendly competition in the room,” Emily says. Plus, friends can help motivate us to exercise for that little bit longer, with the average workout with friends lasting for 42 minutes compared to a solo session of 36 minutes.
4. You’ll transform quicker
According to personal trainer and Men’s Health contributor Scott Baptie, having someone to train with can help you have a 176% greater chance of transforming your body. This is because having a social support network increases your chance of reaching your goal. He suggests picking friends who are stronger or fitter than you to give your workout the edge.
5. You’ll feel pushed to try new things
A study published in Nature Communications revealed exercise is ‘socially contagious’ and we are often inspired by others to try new exercises and routines. “It’s tough to keep yourself motivated when you work out solo,” says Emily. “You might get bored with your routine or find it hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone.” Exercising together can make the challenge more exciting and gives you the confidence to try something new together. Plus, there are plenty of exercises that are better as a duo. “Using each others’ body weight can be a great way to mix up your workout and it’s very effective for strengthening,” says Emily.
6. You’ll feel closer as friends
A recent study by Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology proved that group exercise builds stronger bonds, which in turn helps you both perform better. This is because ‘social motion’ or coordinated movement such as warming up or using the rowing machine together leads to feelings of togetherness. From one experiment, the study found that athletes who warmed up in sync with others were nearly seven seconds faster, suggesting teams with a good bond have a high chance of performing at their best.
7. You’ll feel more accomplished
According to Fast Company, sharing your progress with someone else helps you achieve more. This is because it often results in praise and positive encouragement, fulfilling our need to feel socially connected. However, the University of Michigan and University of Washington found that while publicly sharing your success, such as posting on social media channels, can lead to more encouragement, it can also discourage you from setting as many goals.
“Goal setting is very personal,” explains Emily. “Social media has so many benefits with new ideas and inspiration, but the flipside is that it can make you feel inferior or overwhelmed. Remember influencers and bloggers aren’t you, so don’t be put off my someone else’s version of perfect.” Remember never to compare and despair – have a laugh with your friend instead.
Our pick of the best workouts to do together:
These 30-minute high intensity group sessions are similar to circuit classes with lots of different moves to try. You’ll have more fun and work harder when you go together.
Book into this fun weight-training class together and you’ll be inspired to challenge yourselves with weight and reps. The trainer will help you with your form, too.
Whether to increase your strength, help with flexibility or just to chill out and stretch, head to a class together and you’ll feel more confident to try new poses.
Boxing is great for upper body strength and can be done at the gym or in the local park. Invest in a pair of gloves and some boxing pads to take it in turns with some basic moves.
Gym floor challenge
Try doing compound moves (exercises that work multiple muscles) such as squats, deadlifts and lunges together and you can learn by watching each other’s technique.
Looking for a workout to try together? Try our sculpting weight session that you can do at home or on the gym floor.
Join Virgin Active
Get discounted gym membership at Virgin Active with Vitality*. A joining fee will apply.
*Selected Vitality products only. Minimum monthly premiums and terms and conditions apply.