Do you enjoy exercise? The word ‘exercise’ seems to have so many negative connotations, doesn’t it? It makes me think ‘hard work’, ‘pain’, and ‘routine’. But when you stop and think about what you do enjoy about exercise, oftentimes you focus less on the pain and more on the fun activities: walking with your spouse, playing pickup basketball, surfing, Zumba class, Yoga, CrossFit. Most of the time, these fun activities include other people. It turns out regularly exercising with others can benefit you in many ways. Here are 6 of them…
Enhance Your Exercise Experience
Social interaction with exercise can enhance:1
It’s 5:09am. Your alarm wakes you up a second time after you hit the snooze button 9 minutes ago. Time to get up and go the gym. “No!” You hit snooze again and curl back under the covers. Suddenly you remember why you set the alarm: you’re meeting Chris at 5:30 for a gym session. It’s so early. But you told him you’d be there. Alarm off. Out of bed. On your way.
You’re much more likely to stick with a fitness regimen if other people are involved. With no one to keep you accountable, you might have hit that snooze button again.
When you first started Yoga you sat in the back and left early. You couldn’t do half the poses. Now look at you – you’re a human pretzel.
You’re skill level can only improve so much if you go it alone. With other people for you to model after and give you feedback, the sky is the limit.
I consider myself a motivated person. Yet even with a high level of determination, there are times I dread exercising – especially when I know it’s going to be a hard day on my own.
When I was big into cycling, I would make my hardest training day of the week a Saturday because that was the day of the DONUT ride. I know, it sounds like a bunch of slightly overweight middle-aged folks chowing down in their spandex outside a donut shop. But, it’s actually one of the hardest, most competitive road cycling group rides in the LA area. About 50 cyclists at the top of their sport make a 40+ mile loop around the Palos Verdes Peninsula, pushing each other for 2-3 hours with thousands of feet of climbing – it’s brutal. Saturday’s though, were the highlight of my week. Nothing pushes you more than a physical challenge amongst friends.
Do you ask strangers to spot you at the gym? Me neither. It’s awkward. Therefore, sometimes I won’t push myself as hard as I might if I had someone there with me to give me a spot.
Not only can a friend help with the heavy lifting, they can also point out where you might be performing a technique incorrectly. “Your knee is caving a bit on that squat”, “Your left hip is dropping when you run.” Sure, you might want to slap him in the face when he says it, but little observations from someone else’s perspective are valuable. If tended to properly, these suggestions can save you in the long run.
We already know exercising with others builds your competence, skill, and motivation causing you to push harder and get better. Therefore you’d be cheating yourself not to make the most of every opportunity. Plus, you never know what new opportunities might present themselves.
What if you meet someone at beach volleyball who’s starting a tournament and asks you to enter? You go for it and win the tournament. You get signed for the AVP tour. The next thing you know you’re Kerry Walsh’s partner in the 2018 Olympics. Hey, it could happen.
Let’s face it: when other people are involved, exercise is way more fun – it’s just not the same hitting a tennis ball against the side of a wall for an hour.
20 Group Exercise Ideas
If you’re already hardcore into a sport, or have a solid exercise routine going, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, take it to the next level, and try it with other people.
If you’re looking to get started again with fitness and need some ideas, here’s a list of 20 activities you can invite someone to join you for:
- A walk
- A jog
- A hike
- A bike ride
- Shooting hoops
- Tossing a football
- Tossing a Frisbee
- Playing catch
- Walking your dog
- A gym session
- A DVD workout at home
- An office lunch workout (ask around, you’d be surprised)
- Body surfing
- Tai Chi
Whatever you choose to do for exercise, try including others and see how it enhances your adherence, competence, motivation, safety, opportunity, and most of all enjoyment.
Question: What other activity ideas do you have?
- Ryan RM, et al. Intrinsic Motivation and Exercise Adherence. Int. J. Sport. Psychol. 1997; 28:335-354. (note: references adherence, competence, and enjoyment) ↩︎