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Can’t seem to get yourself to the gym? Tap into the motivational power of social support. In a study from Stanford University, over 200 people were given health-education lessons during which they set a weekly walking goal. From there, they were split into three groups: One that received encouraging phone calls from a live person, another that received the same number of phone calls from an automated computer system and the last that received no follow-up.
The phone calls paid off: A year later, the group that received live calls increased their weekly walking time on average by 78 percent, or an additional hour and 18 minutes! Whether you like to work out alone, with a buddy or in a large group, keep yourself in check with the following tips:
Like a hotel’s complimentary wake-up call, a daily email or phone conversation with a friend can keep you on track. Ask a buddy who understands your fitness goals for gentle reminders several times a week. Even a simple email that asks, “How’s your program going?” may be enough to spark the fitness fire in you.
Make fitness dates with a pal. Knowing that someone is counting on you to show up can be an effective push in the right direction.
Accountability seems to have played an important role in this study, as all groups improved their walking time after one year – even those that didn’t receive phone calls but had to report their exercise. If you prefer to work out alone, try logging your routines in a journal for a private source of motivation.
Hire a personal trainer for weekly or biweekly sessions with a small group of friends. Not only will you save money, but shelling out cash will also make you less likely to hit the snooze button when training time comes around.