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Jan. 11, 2017 at 10:00am
THE KEY TO STICKING WITH YOUR EXERCISE RESOLUTION: GET A PARTNER
January is a perfect month to commit to a program of regular exercise. And that is exactly what thousands of people do – join a YMCA or health club, buy a piece of home exercise equipment or start a walking program. Exercise becomes part of their “new year, new you” resolution.
Most people are familiar with the benefits of regular exercise. Yet, according to Dr. Len Kravitz, Director of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico, approximately 50% those who begin exercise programs drop out within the first six months. Many people who start in January with good exercise intentions find that by April they stop going to the health club, drape clothes over their home exercise equipment, and never find time for a walk. The challenge then is not only to start an exercise program but to sustain it. It must become a lifetime habit in order to support good health.
Fortunately, the key to regular exercise is a simple one: exercise with another person. According to studies conducted at Georgia State University, exercising with a training partner can greatly improve your exercise adherence.
Having a regularly scheduled exercise time, at which your partner is depending on you, is an excellent way of ensuring that you stick with an exercise program. If you have arranged to exercise with a partner, you are more likely to keep that appointment rather than miss it and let someone else down. Having a partner keeps you honest. Knowing that you will let someone else down, in addition to yourself, by missing a workout session, is very good motivation for high exercise adherence.
Here is how it worked for me. I get up early, around 5:30 AM, to exercise. Usually I’m laced up and ready to go on my walk by 6:00 AM. On one February morning, the radio alarm went off and I awakened to a driving rainstorm. To add to my unhappiness over the prospect of getting drenched on my walk, the radio announcer said it was 38 degrees, so I knew I had to find some gloves. And I was still cozy and warm under a down comforter. “There’s no way I’m going out this morning,” I said to myself. “It’s terrible outside and I’m so comfortable in here. I’m skipping my workout today.”
Then I remembered: I have a partner. I couldn’t call his house at 5:30 in the morning and wake up his family just to say I was too lazy to meet him. So, I got up and got dressed, met him at the intersection and went for our walk. When it was over, I was happy that I’d done it. But if it had been up to me, I’d never have gotten out of bed. My partner made it happen.
I relate this story because it illustrates how important it is to find a training partner. While it is important to find the right exercise for the right amount of time and at the proper intensity, regularity is the key to exercise efficacy. Regular exercise means just that…regular. And when someone else is depending on you to show up, you do it. You don’t cancel. You are more dependable and accountable. In my many years of experience evaluating what creates long-term health-and-fitness success (with myself and others), the single most important factor is having a support system. Having a partner is the ultimate support system. It makes exercising more fun and motivates you to stick with your routine.
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