Michelle Obama recently shared a picture of herself working out with her friends. She accompanied the social media post with a note about how she and her ‘crew’ make time to come together and exercise as a group.

Imploring us to work out with those close to us, Michelle accompanied the images with a post explaining why and what benefits their group workouts have:

“My girlfriends have been there for me through all kinds of life transitions over the years – including a pretty big one recently! And we’ve done our best to stay healthy together. Whether it’s a bootcamp or a walk around the neighborhood, I hope you and your crew can find some time this summer to be healthy together.”

The former first lady is no stranger to being at the forefront of public health agendas and with this series of social media images, she has once again hit the nail on the head in terms of fitness inspiration.

I’m a great advocate of exercising with family and friends. This isn’t just personal opinion – Michelle’s message underlines just what recent scientific studies show: that exercising together really does have an effect on your activity levels.

Better with a buddy

The research, by the University of Aberdeen, shows that when people exercise with a companion, the amount of exercise they do increases.

Exercising with a friend is also a great motivator – sometimes it can be hard to finish a strenuous workout alone. And, when you’re not really feeling the gym, your training partner is the one who encourages you to get your trainers on. Psychologists at Stony Brook University (New York) have found that motivating support coming from those closest to us has the most positive effect on exercise levels.

This is further supported by a British study which found 64% of women pushed themselves further when they had a training partner.

At Life Leisure, we sometimes see people drop out of classes after a few sessions – feedback is usually lack of motivation or confidence. However, when we see people who come with their friends, the dropout rate is reduced. People who train together form a group identity, so they no longer feel alone.

Ready to take on the challenge together?

Think you might be more motivated by not going it alone? Then here are a few tips to get going:

  • Best buddies – recruit a friend, family member or colleague and train one-on-one or attend class together. This provides you with the motivation and support you to need to develop a sustainable exercise regime, and the confidence to attend new classes or attempt new disciplines. It’s a good idea to buddy up with someone who has the same fitness goals as you.
  • Group dynamic – just like Michelle Obama, working out in a friends/family group can have added benefits. You don’t all need to be at the same fitness level (working out with people a little fitter than you actually makes you work harder), but it will help if you’re mostly available at the same time and like to do the same things. Working out as a group means that if one or two people can’t make it, you’re still motivated to get out and exercise. It also means you can share court or trainer costs.
  • Couple-up – do you find it hard to fit in exercise and spend time together as a couple? You might not do the same workout, but exercising alongside each other can help you to support each other’s’ fitness goals. However, if you’re prone to bickering, it might be better to find a friend to take and not your other half!
  • Family time – finding time to exercise and keep the kids happy can be hard, so why not take up an activity that everyone can get involved in? Providing positive support and encouragement to your children will strengthen your familial bonds, increase their self-confidence and teach them good habits that they will take into adulthood.
  • Find a new friend – if you don’t know anyone who shares your goals, then group classes present the perfect opportunity to make new friends that do. It may be scary at first, but you’ll soon find people who are there by themselves who can buddy up with, especially if you’re joining a beginners’ class. Your class leader will also be happy to buddy you up with a friendly class regular.

Whether you team up with a family member, partner, best buddy or someone new, getting a fitness friend will help you find exercising more fun. It’ll encourage you to keep going and do more – boosting both your mental and physical health. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get fitter together!