June 17, 2024

The Buddy System by Mary Miriani

Remember the buddy system? It is a system critical to survival should something go wrong. As it turns out, it is also an effective system to implement when beginning an exercise program. A workout buddy can keep exercise both motivating and interesting. The advantages of exercising with a friend, as well as choosing the right buddy often make or break success efforts.

Working up a sweat with a friend is a great thing, especially if you hate to exercise.  Having a buddy keeps you accountable. It is much harder to skip your daily exercise if you know there is somebody counting on you to show up. Exercise is more enjoyable when shared with others. It fulfills the human need to socialize.

People are social animals, and thrive on the feeling of being “in this together.”  Exercise buddies both motivate you to keep your exercise commitment, and celebrate your victories, such as pounds lost or miles walked. They encourage you when the scale is not budging, and keep you focused. That is, if you have chosen the right partner.

Here are the essential qualities to consider when choosing an appropriate exercise buddy:

They keep it positive. The person you choose to exercise with needs to possess a positive attitude.  Negativity is the enemy of long term success. Exercise is supposed to make you feel good. How can you feel good when your focus is on what is ineffective? Patience and persistence are good attributes in a workout buddy, especially if you are not. Impatience undermines the most well intentioned exercise plans, because, despite being bombarded by get-fit-quick messages, it takes at least twice as long to get fit than to become unfit.

They possess a stick-with-it quality. You don’t want a partner who easily gives up when it gets tough. And let’s face it, getting fit is tough.

You share similar capabilities and exercise experiences. Look for friends who have similar goals and fitness levels as you. If your buddy is too advanced or too far below your fitness level, you or they will be likely to quit due to difficulty or lack of results. 

Their personality is a match for yours. Most important, you need to enjoy the company of the person you workout with and the activity you choose. No one sticks long-term with something or someone they dislike, regardless of activity results or progress.

Set a goal to find a workout buddy, and then commit to an activity you both enjoy. You will survive your exercise program and reap the benefits of better health. 

By Mary Miriani. BA Exercise Science; ACSM Health/Fitness Specialist.
Reality Fitness, Inc.; Naperville, IL. Contact her via email, mary@miriani.com.