If you have ever worked out in a group or with someone, you might have definitely experienced going the extra mile. You may have found yourself being more motivated and actually sticking to your goals. Doing those extra sets of push-ups when you see others around you pushing through. But why? What is it about exercising in a community that pushes us?
Research shows that healthy actions or habits of others around us rub off on us. A study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that participants gravitate towards the exercise behaviour of those around them. A 2016 study published in the journal Obesity found that overweight people tend to lose more weight if they spend time with their fit friends — the more time they spend together, the more weight they lose.
Whether you workout in groups physically or partner up with your pals virtually on any fitness app, the benefits are plenty.
For most folks, it’s difficult to stay consistent with workout routines, but having a certain group there waiting for you, provides you with the motivation and accountability everyone needs to be successful in any aspect of life, let alone achieving fitness goals. Working out with others improves consistency as they require a commitment. If you don’t show up or cancel, you are frowned upon. Positive peer pressure can help subside the urges to skip a workout or quit completely.
Makes you push yourself harder:
The idea that no one wants to be the weakest link in a group setting is called the Köhler Effect. When you are partnered up with people who are fitter, you push yourself harder than you would normally while going solo. Other studies confirm that working out with a partner significantly increases the time spent exercising. A study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine showed that working with a partner, especially in a team format, improved performance, doubling the workout time of those who exercised alone.
Makes you more competitive:
Let’s be honest. We all have that one person in our workout groups who nails everything and who is a physical embodiment of your fitness goals. You can and you will be that person, only if you have that competitive edge. Competition not only with your peers who are fitter but also with yourself. One reason why you may push yourself harder when others are slaying around you is the innate competitive streak in all of us. For instance, wanting to keep up with those around you can make you push yourself harder than you would on your own and seeing what others are capable of doing can inspire you to do more
Better for mental health:
We all already know how beneficial working out in general is for our mental health. A successful workout session releases endorphins which make you pleasantly satisfied. Couple that up with human interactions within workout groups or partner, and we have an absolute winner. When you are pushing yourself hard and struggling, having that fitness buddy around you may energise and make you feel better. Researchers from the University of Southern California found that people who worked out with friends, family or acquaintances said they enjoyed the exercise more than those who sweat it out alone.
Given the slightly delicate situation that we all are in right now (and for a foreseeable future), physically gathering together for workouts can also be tricky. A great substitute as always comes from the virtual world. You can team up with people for workouts through various fitness apps. The StepSetGo app allows you to partner up with your friends and family in the app. There are various challenges available in the app which allow you to virtually compete with your friends, apart from the always available weekly leaderboard. The said leaderboard also pushes you to work harder and be on top of your game.
So, we can all agree that if you are a lone wolf, it might be a good time to join a pack.