The notion in the quotes I just posted that companionship and energy can work together for something better is really true. What relationship does companionship have to do with energy, exercise, and well-being? In this Sugar and Spice Advice article, we’ll find the tie-in.
Research has shown that working out alone gives a person time to think which is very beneficial in our noisy, busy, high tech lives, but exercising with a partner has many benefits as well. The benefits of marital bliss or even friendship include combatting illness, depression, and high blood pressure. A couple of other benefits of working out with a pal are healthy competition and camaraderie. The relationship one has with her/his spouse or buddy will deepen. That’s a good thing, right?
What helps a person who is trying to break old habits that aren’t the best for one’s health and happiness or one who is trying to develop good habits? Some folks do well solo, but for many people having a buddy improves their ability to succeed. Breaking a bad habit or starting a good one takes effort and determination to overcome obstacles. The more support a person has the greater the chances of success. Asking a friend, spouse, or coworker to join the campaign for health provides encouragement and accountability along the way. This is one reason weight loss programs have counselors. The counselors not only advise, but they provde support and ask the client to be accountable for their decisions by monitoring how she/he is doing.
Change takes time. Set reasonable goals and report to the buddy. Enjoy small successes together. Set milestones and reasonable rewards. Maybe for a certain amount of weight loss or weeks without smoking earns the person a book shopping date with the buddy, or visiting a museum with one’s spouse.
Personally, and as my MediFast counselor will say, when a person is making healthy changes the success rate is higher when partnering with someone who is working on the same change. This is because each person can support and encourage the other one on the road to success. I love research-based studies so it was great to learn that when partnering with a pal, each person lost more weight than if they had gone it alone. And a good partner/pal can be a trustworthy and cheap therapist. I know when I talk things over with my sister, who happens to be my best friend, I see things more clearly and I feel her love and support. (It is great having a big sister, isn’t it?)
Let me cover the benefits now.
Cordial rivalry supports exercise by helping one share her/his goals and be self-disciplined to achieve them. Knowing someone else is watching the progress can give the person the extra umphh needed to succeed.
Walking or exercising together provides solidarity. The person and her/his buddy can be mutual cheerleaders and coaches. Take turns coming up with new challenges to include in the exercise routine. Maybe tomorrow one of the pair can suggest a different walking or biking trail that includes an incline as opposed to the same level course that has become the routine. Conversation during exercise helps pass the time so they may walk farther than previously done or at least it will seem that the exercise time has flown by.
As side notes, here is more information on making and improving relationships:
1) Talk, don’t type. E-mails are efficient and are inexpensive ways to keep in touch with those who may not live close by. However, it’s not always the friendliest way to enjoy a relationship. Now and then pick up the phone or go somewhere (it doesn’t have to be expensive) and have a real conversation. This strengthens relationships more than an e-mail. Again, some research has shown, regular chats with loved ones, friends, or acquaintances can boost one’s health as well as exercise can. Do remember that talking is great, but does not replace physical activity. Rather it’s a boost to the exercise.
2) Want to find a new buddy or someone who is on a similar diet or exercise program? Try joining a club that caters to one’s hobbies or favorite sports. Volunteer for an organization that is a pet concern. Daphne and I volunteer at the local library and we have met some wonderful folks who love and talk books, something Daphne and I are passionate about it. (We’ve also been introduced to some new authors and books that we might not have known about or tried before.) Being in a group with like-minded folks gives a person the opportunity to connect with others who have the same concerns and values.
Simon and Garfunkel had a famous song which had the lyrics, “I am a rock. I am an island.” Going solo is acceptable at times, but not being an island unto one’s self and having a spouse or pal along for the ride can make things much more fun and improve success. Give it a try and see what you think.
Wishing you health and happiness!
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