Exercise the Buddy System

Not motivated to exercise? Grab a buddy

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Having a hard time getting up off the couch? Are you paying for a gym membership that hasn't been used in months? Well, it's probably no surprise that you are not alone. More than 60 percent of adults don't get the recommended amount of at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days per week. We've all heard about the virtues of exercise—elevated mood, better sleep, better cardiovascular and lung health, better muscle tone, increased energy, and improved strength and stamina. And, oh yeah—weight loss. Yet, many of us still suffer from a simple lack of motivation.

But there is one simple way to keep you motivated and accountable to your fitness goals: the buddy system. That's right, the rule we all learned in kindergarten—that a buddy can keep you on the right path—works for exercise, too. Research shows that working out with a partner ups the odds that you'll honor your exercise commitments, making it easier to get fit and lose weight. In fact, a recent study found that when professional rowers rowed in sync versus alone they released more endorphins and had a higher tolerance for pain. The buddy system just makes sense—having a structured, scheduled plan with a like-minded friend puts pressure on you to make your exercise date. You and your partner keep each other accountable.

If you can't find a friend who wants to feel the burn, too, try a group class instead. Exercise classes also provide accountability; they put pressure on you to show up, even when you don't know your fellow exercise buddies. Plus, classes start and end at a specific time, so you'll know exactly how much exercise you're getting. And you'll likely push yourself a little harder than you would when working out solo. From yoga and Pilates to spinning and kick-boxing, there are many different types and styles of group classes to choose from. Such variety can prevent boredom and will continually challenge your body. Another bonus: The presence of a trained instructor can help you achieve better form, which protects against injury, and helps keep your movements honest (great for when you start cheating on those lunges).

So who's ready for a little friendly competition? Get off that couch and grab a buddy or book a group class today!

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the U.S. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored three books: Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on Youtube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!