IN THE REHAB ZONE

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Choosing a Fitness Partner

If you have a hard time getting motivated to exercise, enlisting a fitness partner can help. A partner can encourage, challenge and pace you and make working out more fun.

A recent study found that new mothers who had fitness partners got more exercise than mothers with no partner support. Another study found that just a phone call can help motivate people to exercise more. After three months, those who had received motivating phone calls were more likely to have increased their level of physical activity than those who hadn’t.

Choosing a fitness partner right for you can motivate you to work out even when you don’t want to, simply because you know someone is counting on you. Exercising with a partner is also a great way to socialize. Instead of dreading your daily workout, you’ll find yourself looking forward to catching up with a friend.  In addition, a fitness partner can make it less intimidating to join a gym, try a new class, or learn a new sport. Your friend can give you the courage to take that kickboxing class you’ve had your eye on or head to that hiking trail you’ve always wanted to try.  Finally, it’s safer to work out with someone. If you injure yourself on a run, for instance, your partner can find the help you need.

Choosing a Fitness Partner

While the right partner can motivate you to accomplish your fitness goals, the wrong one could squelch your efforts. When deciding on a fitness partner, keep these things in mind:

  • Choose a partner with a fitness level similar to yours. If you haven’t exercised for years, don’t choose a partner who runs four miles a day. If you and your partner have similar fitness levels, you can progress at a similar pace and encourage each other as you improve.
  • Find someone who shares your fitness goals. By working with someone with similar goals, you can help motivate each other and share your triumphs. If, on the other hand, you want to gain muscle and your partner is looking to slim down, you and your partner may quickly become frustrated.
  • Make sure you have things in common other than exercise. If all you have in common with your fitness partner is working out, you may not find yourself looking forward to your next workout. Choose someone whose company you genuinely enjoy, so that your workouts are as socially fulfilling as they are physically challenging.

Working Out with a Fitness Partner

Once you’ve found the right fitness partner, it’s time to get moving. Get together with your partner – calendars in hand – and schedule when and where you’ll meet to regularly exercise. Then, set some ground rules and stick to them.  Agree upon a cancellation policy, just as you would for a doctor’s appointment or hotel reservation. If one of you can’t make it to a scheduled workout, select a time period (24 hours, for example) in which you must cancel in advance. Also, figure out how you’ll decide on your activities. For example, you could design this week’s exercise schedule, your partner could design next week’s, and so on.

Now it’s time to enjoy the benefits your partner brings. Besides being someone to chat with, a partner can encourage you to participate in workouts that you wouldn’t consider otherwise. You can also mix up your workout schedule by adding partner-focused activities such as tennis or basketball.  Ask your partner to teach you activities that he or she has mastered, and share your skills as well. With a fitness partner, you can quickly add variety to your fitness routine, which will go a long way toward keeping you motivated to become fit and stay that way.

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