Study finds workout with a buddy increases output

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It’s no surprise that working out on a consistent basis is the most effective way — maybe the only way — to lose weight and change your body.

But that consistency is also the hardest component.

I can consistently watch the TV show “Scandal” or add cheese to anything labeled vegan. But I used to have the hardest time consistently exercising.

I think having a workout buddy is one of the best things ever. Since I started the practice, I’ve never exercised more consistently.

What’s interesting and never occurred to me is that the people you choose to work out with can affect how hard you exercise.

You want to pick anyone really, but if you can, pick someone you perceive to be in better shape because you’ll tend to give more effort, according to results of a study conducted by a team of researchers including Brandon Irwin, assistant professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, as part of the study the team had female college students ride a stationary bike alone in a lab setting for as long as they liked. They averaged about 10 minutes of riding time per capita.

Then they had the same women exercise again in the lab setting, although this time members were told they had a partner in another lab, whom they could see on a TV monitor. In fact, the monitor displayed a looping video, not a live feed of another participant.

Researchers told the participants that their virtual partners had performed 40 percent better on the initial solitary bike session, giving the impression that the partner was the stronger athlete.

In this scenario, according the Huffington article, participants nearly doubled their bike times ­— adding on an average nine minutes, for a total of 19 minutes.

It seems the trick is to find a person you actually like. If you don’t like the person you will have no problem calling to cancel, or just flat out not showing up.

I adore my workout buddies and always show up. I know if I didn’t, one of them would cut me.

Yes, them; I have two.

Get more than one person to exercise with — for a backup or just to exercise in a different way with each.

The other perk is that it’s fun.

I think the most overwhelming statistic is the one that says you are 80 percent more likely to exercise consistently if you exercise with a friend.

I’m not great at math, but I feel like anything over half is pretty amazing and should be blindly followed.

There are so many benefits to exercising with a friend that it is almost ill-advised not to. I think the most surprising and best thing is becoming such good friends and the support you give one another.

It can be rare that a workout is fun on your own, so why not grab a friend and start enjoying yourself?

Alyssa Latham is Health Seekers Initiative director at the Walla Walla YMCA. She can be reached at alatham@wwymca.org.

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