February 8, 2010

Lean on Us

One of the best parts about starting a new journey into health and fitness is that you don't have to go alone.  In fact, several studies show that you shouldn't - and in certain cases, like 100+ lb. weight loss or endurance event training - can't successfully go alone.  One such study* finds that women with any type of social support - friend, family, or other companion - are less likely to be sedentary than those without it.

Already have a good deal of support in your personal life but need a bit more outside the home?  An international study** of group exercise classes (such as Spin class, kickboxing, or bene-fit Boot Camp) found that exercise classes fostered a sense of group cohesion and increased positive attitudes toward exercise.  The type of class you choose is less important than finding one where you feel comfortable, challenged, and eager to attend each week (remember: consistency is key!).

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, don't forget a third type of social support: intimate partners.  Try training for and running a race with your sweetie (bene-fit offers customized four, eight, and twelve-week running plans for any distance from 5K to marathon, as well as duathlon and triathlon events), setting up weekly "date nights" to cook healthy dinners and hit the gym (and sit in the hot tub or sauna afterward!), or signing up for buddy training (two people enjoy personal training sessions together at a discounted price with bene-fit).

Single?  Renew your personal fitness commitment by setting up a fitness challenge with your closest friends, checking out activity partners online at a website like Fitness Singles, or setting up a series of individualized lessons focused just on you (such as one-on-one yoga instruction with bene-fit).

The options are many, but it's up to you to corral the sources of support that you need and start making changes in your life today.  Stay well, bene-fitters!

*Eyler et al (1999).  Physical activity: social support and middle and older-aged minority women: results from a US survey.  Social Science & Medicine.
**Schmidt et al. (2006).  Group cohesion and social support in exercise classes.  Health Education Behavior

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