Exercising and spending quality time with friends are two of the most important things you can do for your health and wellness. But while the benefits of exercise need no explanation, regular socialization may be even more critical than you think. In fact, loneliness is considered as harmful to your wellbeing as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So if you're searching for a bit of fitness motivation, exercise and friendship may just be the powerful, effective combination your workout routine (and your mental health) needs. After all, working out alone can be, well, lonely. Not only is fitness more fun with a friend, but it can also help you reach your goals quicker and ensure you stick with them long term.
Another way to kick your workout up a notch when you're feeling uninspired? Sporting a quality, feel-good fitness set — one that keeps you comfortable and confident. Athleta's studio set pairings are made for movement, crafted from buttery-soft fabric that's supportive and strong — just like how working out with a friend should feel. Even better, these dynamic pieces are designed for mixing and matching, which is perfect for a complementary fitness look with your new workout BFF.
Now that you've both got your outfits sorted, it's time to reap the benefits of your partner workout. Ahead, discover some major perks of mixing friendship and fitness.
You'll Stay Accountable
If you have trouble sticking to an exercise regime, you're not alone. Enlisting a friend to tag along is a great way to stay energized and on schedule. After all, it's easier to bail on yourself than on a friend. Friends have expectations and we usually don't want to let them down. The same is true for slacking off during your actual workout. You'll most likely find yourself pushing through without pausing for as many water (or social media) breaks when you have a friend there to call you out. In turn, your newfound consistency will help improve your performance faster than when you're only attending the gym sporadically and slacking off when you do manage to get there.
If that's not enough motivation, researchers at the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University found that 43 percent of married couples who worked out separately gave up on their gym memberships altogether within a year. However, of the married couples who worked out together, only 6.3 percent gave up on their gym membership within 12 months.
You'll Push Yourself Harder
Staying motivated is a key factor for fitness success, and while friends can serve as our coaches, teammates, and even friendly competitors, they can also be our biggest cheerleaders. A friendly voice cheering you on when you feel like you've hit a wall can make all the difference. The encouragement doesn't have to be vocal either; just working out alongside someone can propel you forward, simply because it'll naturally put you in a more competitive mindset. When you feel like giving up or taking the easy way out, turn to your buddy next to you — if they can do it, so can you.
In addition, when you sweat solo, it's all too easy to fall back on the same old exercises. But that's an easy way to fall into a fitness plateau. A friend might have suggestions for switching up your routine that you wouldn't think of alone, and that helps keep things interesting and challenging for both your muscles and your mind. Research from 2011 even shows that people who exercise with a friend (either in-person or virtually) work harder and longer than those who go at it alone.
You'll Be Safer
Having someone else around to spot you when you're lifting heavy weights makes your workout a lot safer and can help keep you both injury-free. Your partner can also keep your form in check, pointing out when you need to straighten your back or reminding you to keep your weight in your heels when squatting. Little tweaks like these can save you loads of pain later on. After all, having a real person by your side is way more helpful than a quick self-check in the gym mirror. And don't forget about safety in numbers when going on a run or a walk outdoors.
You'll Have More Fun
In a 2013 study of 117 adults out of the University of Southern California, those who worked out with friends (or a spouse or a coworker) said they enjoyed the exercise more than those who got sweaty solo. It makes sense: you like hanging out with your friends, so why not do it while getting active? Including a friend can also help your workout feel like it's going by much quicker. Whether you're logging time on an elliptical trainer or pushing yourself in a tabata class, working out with a buddy feels more like a social activity than a chore. Before you know it, that hour has flown by. It's also easier to try new things with a partner. Who knows — you may just find an activity you love; one that feels more like fun and less like a workout.
You'll Feel Social
Socializing helps stave off isolation and loneliness, which can be associated with heart disease, stroke, and even premature death. Especially if your schedule is packed, combining a hangout session with your workout is a smart use of your time that'll leave you feeling more energized and accomplished. Socializing also helps exercise your brain through interpreting people's facial expressions, speech, emotions, and body language. That extra effort from being social, even if you're unaware of it, promotes brain cell connections, which keeps thinking and memory sharp. Add in the physical work of exercise, which also stimulates the growth of new brain cells, and you get a double dose of brain-health benefits.
With so many perks (both physical and mental), it's easy to see why working out with a partner can be even more beneficial than going at it alone. Grab a friend, check out Athleta's studio sets below, and get your sweat on in style.