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Exercise buddies help motivation

Exercise buddies help motivation….

Scientists found working out with someone else was the key to staying motivated – even if the partner was virtual. A team from Michigan State University recruited 58 young women to take part in a six sessions on an exercise bike. All of them were told to cycle for as long as they felt comfortable. They were split into 3 groups. One group cycled alone and another cycled with a virtual partner who they first ‘met’ via a pre-recorded video chat. They were told that the ‘virtually present partner’ would be riding at the same time on a similar bike in another lab. The 3rd group exercised together. 

During the exercise sessions, participants with a partner were able to track their progress by watching what looked like a live feed but was in fact a recording. The scientists told these participants that their partner’s performance was a little better than their own. The women were then asked to rate their intention to exercise again, how well they felt they had done and how tired they felt. The researchers also measured how hard they had worked.

The results revealed that the women cycling with a virtual performance exercised for 22 minutes, which was twice as long as those cycling alone. Those exercising solo also saw a marked decline in intent to exercise while the other reported no decline in motivation. 

The authors conclude: Being able to more than double one’s performance is a substantial gain for those trying to increase their physical activity. These results are encouraging and suggest that the gains we observed over six hour-long sessions could be sustained on a longer-term program of exercise. This may be of particular value in future efforts to help people meet physical activity recommendations.

Studies have shown that working out in groups yields longer participation; the researchers said they wanted to see if the same logic applied when the "group" was virtual. The results suggested that a virtual group may be effective at persuading people to keep going.
 
Lack of motivation is a major barrier that prevents people from exercising as much as they should and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the researchers said.
 
The study was published on May 24 in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

This tie's in with my earlier blog 'Mum & Son'.

Yours in sport,

Michelle Colvin

International Spinning® Master Instructor (UK)

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