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A Buddy Makes All the Difference

Por Leslie Rodríguez, RD, LD* -
A Buddy Makes All the Difference

Do you have a hard time getting motivated to exercise? Imagine having a friend who counts on you to exercise with her everyday.  You wouldn’t want to let her down, would you? This is why workout buddies can make a tremendous difference in your exercise routine.

Using workout buddies, or other types of support systems, can greatly increase your chances of establishing a successful exercise routine.  Having a friend who counts on you to exercise with will make you more committed to your own exercise routine.  These friends can encourage you and keep you motivated.  They can help you avoid relapsing into a sedentary lifestyle.

Finding a workout buddy is easy. Get a neighbor to take walks with you.  Plan the length of your walk ahead of time, and then meet at the same time everyday to walk.  Get a co-worker to walk with you during your lunch break. You can either walk around the office building or parking lot together, or you can walk to wherever you plan on having lunch.  You may even find co-workers willing to exercise with you after work.  Walking with a co-worker can help you release stress and you can even vent to each other about work-related issues.  Just remember to bring your exercise clothes and shoes every day.

Your spouse, significant other, or partner can encourage you and keep you from making excuses to avoid doing your exercise routine. Studies have shown that, by walking together, couples improve their ability to relate to one another. Walking or exercising together helps couples get away from the monotony of life, such as paying bills and doing chores, which take away from the romance and fun in relationships. Exercising raises your endorphin levels, and exercising outdoors causes your levels of serotonin to increase. Both of these chemicals are linked to feelings of happiness and optimism, which can help you feel better about your relationship. By exercising together, you and your partner will have the opportunity to communicate more and share a positive experience.

You can also make your children part of your exercise program. Children have a lot of energy and will make exercise fun. You will also be setting a good example for your children by exercising with them. When walking with your children, choose a destination that will be enjoyable to them.  Try walking to an arcade, playground, park, or ice cream shop. Make sure you walk at your children’s pace.  Otherwise, they may not want to walk with you again.

And, of course, your dog can make a devoted and reliable walking partner. Dogs are always ready for walks, and will remind you when it's time to go. Although most dogs make great exercise buddies, your dog may need some obedience training before making him your walking partner.  If your dog is not used to exercising regularly, remember to get him checked out by the vet.  The vet can also recommend ways to ease your dog into a training program. If you don't have a dog but would still like to walk with one, you can borrow one from a friend or neighbor, or even from your local animal shelter.  They often need volunteer dog-walkers.

You may have considered joining an exercise class, but feel intimidated. It may feel more comfortable to join the class along with one or two of your friends.  Consider taking dance classes, playing golf or tennis, or bowling with a friend or two. You may end up having so much fun participating in all of these activities with a buddy, that you'll always look forward to exercising and may want to do it more often. In fact, telling your friends and family about all the fun you are having may result in you having more than one workout buddy.

When looking for an exercise buddy, try to choose someone similar to you in terms of fitness level, pace, and stamina. You could even have different partners for different activities. Maybe you have a friend who likes to stroll and not work up much of a sweat and another one who wants a better workout like half-hour sessions of fast jogging. Remember not to push yourself to keep up with someone who walks a lot faster than you do.  You could get seriously injured. If you are gasping for breath while your partner is carrying out most of the conversation, you need to slow down.

Let’s face it: we all like to have someone to talk to. Having a workout buddy helps combine activity with friendship. When you enjoy exercising, you will do it regularly and not make excuses to avoid it. So, find a buddy and start having fun!

*Specialist in sports nutrition and physical activity with MiDieta™


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