Me and My Buddy

The word is in: Working out in pairs will help you stay in tune with your fitness goals. But do you know what kind of fitness buddy you'd best benefit from?
Me and My Buddy

When problems need working out, most of us agree that two heads are better than one. And when it comes to just plain working out, a similar adage is also right on: Two is better than one.

In fact, a workout buddy may be your best bet for staying on the fitness track. An Indiana University study concluded that couples who exercise together are seven times more likely to stick to their fitness routine. However, every partnership isn't perfect. You need to bond with a buddy who shares similar goals, schedules and exercise sensibilities.

For Better or for Worse
Married couple Jane and Les registered together at their local gym as soon as they decided to lose weight. Determined to meet their weight-loss goals, they now make it to the gym at least five times a week. Jane says, "Naturally there are days when we come home from work really beat, but one of us prods the other to grab the gym bags and get going. Before long, we're striding side-by-side on treadmills."

Friendly competition between the two also helps fuel motivation. Les usually keeps a faster pace, but Jane tries to walk further and faster while increasing her incline. "I know spouses who sabotage weight-loss efforts," Jane says. "So I think we're lucky to be working out together."

From "Shared Goals" to "Get Going"
Unlike Jane and Les, most of us have to find our fitness friends outside our homes. Still, it helps when your body double shares the same routine. Cathy and Diane had children in the same kindergarten class when they met and began talking about their desire to lose weight. As a result, they began a steady walking schedule.

"Since our kids were in the afternoon program, we wore our tennis shoes and met in the park beforehand," says Cathy. While their children rode tricycles or played in the sandbox, the two friends walked. As a duo, Cathy says exercise time flies by. "We'd be gabbing about our kids, and before we knew it, 45 minutes had passed."

Virtual Buddies
But it's not always easy to hook up with a buddy, especially in a big city. That's why finding a virtual fitness friend is a great alternative. Andrea, who lives in New York, went online to find calorie-burning companions. She was looking for motivation and friendly competition, and she finally hooked up with like-minded "Walk to Goal" and "Exercise to Goal" e-group participants.

"The exercise e-group is so convenient," Andrea says enthusiastically. "It allows me to hop online at any time of the day to record my miles walked or just look for encouragement."

To keep your motivation peaking, it's best if your fitness pals have the same agenda: to burn those calories. And look for someone who shares similar pleasures. Whether it's mall walking, bird watching or treadmill trekking, fitness friends help each other meet their goals with a little sweat and a lot of inspiration.

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