If you could do only two things to improve your health, studies have shown that exercising and hanging out with friends are at the top of the list.

Exercising is self-explanatory, but friendships may be even more important than you’d think. According to a new study in Perspectives on Psychological Science, loneliness is as harmful to your well-being as smoking 15 cigarettes a day(!). So, why not combine the two and exercise with your friends! Not only is working out with a friend more fun, but an exercise partner can make you more accountable, motivated, and even fast-track your goals.

Here are a few benefits of a workout buddy, just in case you need extra convincing to call up that friend:

  1. It’s easier to try new things

When you’ve got someone else with you, it’s much less intimidating to start going to new classes, trying out new exercise equipment, etc. So if you’ve always wanted to try a certain class call your friend and get them on board!

  1. It increases commitment

When you’re going to the gym by yourself, it’s easy to talk yourself out of it… but it’s less easy when you know you’ll be letting a friend down if you cancel. In addition to this, having a workout partner means you have to plan your workouts in advance to match each other’s schedules, and once it’s scheduled in your planner, it’s much more likely that you’re going to follow through with it.

  1. It motivates and supports you

For most people, having someone in their corner makes a huge difference to how motivated they are. Having a good workout buddy who motivates and supports you will boost your commitment to your fitness goals and your confidence that you can achieve them. By keeping one another accountable, you’re being consistent and you’ll meet your goals faster than when you’re only attending the gym sporadically.

  1. Working out becomes fun

In a study of adults by the University of Southern California, those who worked out with friends (or a spouse or co-worker) said they enjoyed the exercise more than those who worked out by themselves. Which makes sense… if you like hanging out with your friends, then getting active with them will make your workouts that much more enjoyable – and the more fun your workouts are, the more you’re going to look forward to them and be committed over the long-term! Being able to laugh, encourage, and motivate one another will make exercise much more fun, and ideally something you’ll want to make a part of your everyday lifestyle.

Those are a few simple benefits of a workout partner, and if you took a moment, you could probably come up with a handful more. The point is, having a good workout buddy is going to help you meet your goals faster and ideally keep them long-term. So recruit a friend, a co-worker, or your spouse (studies have shown that working out together can increase relationship happiness). Share your goals with one another to help keep each other on track and accountable, and remember to have fun!

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