Get motivated for exercise this Spring with the help of a virtual friend.
The cooler months are almost behind us – and as we prepare to feel the warm summer air again, you might be looking to re-vamp your fitness routine.
If you’ve hibernated all winter and are finding it difficult to get motivated, you could find inspiration online – but maybe not by staring at #fitspo pics on Instagram!
Find a motivating “health buddy”
Research has suggested participating in social networks, and sharing your workouts and achievements with others, can help to motivate you to exercise.
In fact, you’re more likely to stick to your exercise regime if you have a virtual friend or buddy to inspire you.
You don’t have to exercise with them – so you’re not limited by their schedule. It’s more about sharing your experiences with someone else and being involved and invested in what other people are doing as well.
Researchers studied this theory in late last year. The research, performed by a team at the University of Pennsylvania, tested program-assigned “health buddies.”
In this randomised controlled trial, the researchers created a website where 217 graduate students enrolled in free exercise classes at the University of Pennsylvania gym. The research was published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports.
One group was given typical inspirational images, messages and videos –the other group members were placed in social networks with their peers.
The results showed that, while promotional messages resulted in short-term motivation, they had no long-lasting effect. The social network group actually increased motivation as the weeks went on.
The right kind of support
In the study, the groups were anonymous. Yet they were able to see all the details of each other’s workouts and successes. They received alerts when someone in the group signed up for a new class and could monitor each other’s progress.
This type of support can help you in other ways, too. If you’re trying to stop drinking, Hello Sunday Morning (www.hellosundaymorning.org) offers a forum where you can receive peer support and email alerts (anonymously if you prefer).
Beyond Blue have a range of forums that explore different mental health issues and topics.
The whole package
Remember that getting back into a fitness routine isn’t only about getting fit – it’s about diet and lifestyle as well as exercise.
Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and keeping your stress levels in check will help to complement your exercise efforts.
Also, when it comes to your fitness, remember to choose a type of exercise you enjoy. You’ll be much more likely to succeed and commit if you like what you do.