Here at Life Leisure we often exhort the value of activity and its fantastic impact on mental, social and physical health.
That’s why we do our best to ensure we offer something for everybody, from seated exercise classes and gentle yoga, to guided HIIT workouts and elite swimming coaching.
But we also want to let you into a secret – being active is even #BetterTogether.
So, if you’ve been struggling to get the motivation to get active, or you’ve hit a brick wall when it comes to your workouts, it’s time to bring out the big guns – a partner in activity.
Work hard, play hard
One of the main benefits of activity with others is that it’s a lot more fun, and therefore something you’re more likely to stick at.
A kick about with the football team goes hand-in-hand with a bit of banter, while group activities such as Zumba are sure to get you laughing.
Having fun also means you spend less time focussing on the negative. That dodgy knee seems far less distracting when you are chatting with a friend.
You can share a laugh when something goes wrong rather than skulking off the gym floor embarrassed, and you can have a comrade to go with you to a new class or when trying a new skill.
Likewise, if you’re struggling with your mental health, heading to one of our coffee mornings to enjoy a brew with a friendly face could be all you need to lift your spirits.
One of the main benefits of teaming up to exercise is motivation. Having a friend with you will mean you are less likely to give in easily. You can support each other – when one is feeling less motivated, the other can provide the boost they need.
There’s also a sense of accountability when a friend or partner is involved. If you fail to attend a class or session, you are also removing their support network – it may be that they need you there to give them the confidence to take part. So, if you don’t go – they might not either.
Letting a friend down could also have problems practically. If you’ve booked a badminton court or you were supposed to be meeting for a catch up and coffee, your pal will be missing out too.
Guilt-tripping you into going along isn’t going to work every time, but having a friend to hold you accountable will certainly help encourage you to make more of an effort if you’re thinking of someone other than yourself.
Strength in Numbers
It’s important to think about how your performance could be improved with the addition of an exercise partner.
Finding someone with a similar fitness level as you could be the key to pushing you further than you’ve pushed yourself, or give you tips and techniques on how you can improve.
They don’t have to be an expert, but they can talk about things that have worked for them or lessons they’ve learned the hard way. In turn you can impart your knowledge, and supporting others through your own experience could renew your own passion.
This goes for a whole range of activities, from helping you master that yoga pose you’ve struggled with or giving you the confidence to try more weights in body pump.
We get a lot of emotional support and stress relief through exercise, so doing it with others can give you an additional crutch. Talking through your difficulties – whether it’s about your fitness, home or work life – can be a great benefit to your mental health.
Joining a group class or taking part in a team sport are some of the most obvious activities that only get better with friends. You can go along with a friend or you can attend a session solo and meet people there – either way you will finish your activity on a high.
A Zumba or Boxercise class for example are all about having fun, having a giggle whilst getting your heart rate up. It’s a ready-made group of friends who will be by your side for the whole class – and often afterwards too!
Team sports such as football – or walking football for those with less mobility – are as much about camaraderie and banter as they are about skill. But missing too many training sessions or an important match is going to let your team down, which increases your sense of accountability.
Life Leisure’s low impact and gentle exercise sessions, SMILE, provides a variety of sessions to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing, but are also fantastic at bringing people with similar mindsets and abilities together.
Taking part in an activity with others can help you strengthen social connections, so is a great way to spend quality time with a family member or partner, or reconnect with old friends.
Exercise releases feel good endorphins – so throwing your friends and family members into the mix and it’s a recipe for a fun filled time that will help build your relationships. When the going gets tough you’ve got each other to get through, and when the times are good you are with the people you love the most.
And there’s plenty of things you can do together no matter what your ability, you can hire a badminton court, go for a family swim or even have a kick about in the park – it all helps.
So, whether it’s going for a coffee, going for a bike ride or sweating it out in the gym – it’s always #BetterTogether.