Making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle can provide a long list of benefits, from improved strength and weight loss to an increased metabolism, better sleep, more energy, improved posture and a more positive outlook. But exercise can offer additional, often under-recognized benefits for your social life.
Working out can be a very social activity, and few things offer more powerful motivation than the sound of friends and partners cheering you on. If you’ve just joined a gym or you’ve recently started adding exercise to your regular routine, consider making use of the buddy system. Bring a friend along on your runs or resistance training sessions. Choose someone who shares at least some of your general workout goals, someone with a similar approach and level of commitment. If you work out with a partner, you can keep each other on track and motivated when things get difficult. You can also offer tips and pointers on technique and give each other perspective when progress seems slow.
If you don’t have a potential workout partner in your circle, head to the gym solo but keep an eye out for classes that might interest you. Group sessions can be fun and can provide a great way to get and give positive reinforcement. Even if you’re shy, regular attendance will eventually help you get to know the other members of the group, who may be friendlier and more encouraging than you realize. Signing up for a regularly scheduled class will also help you stay committed, especially if you begin to see progress (which you will) and you want to keep moving forward.
The process will be easier if you choose a gym or class with like-minded people who seem to share your approach. But don’t be afraid to expose yourself to new people and new situations that can help you grow.