Humans tend to be social animals. We have evolved as a species by joining forces with other humans and there really isn’t much we like to do in isolation. From watching movies to reading in a library setting to eating, there are some interesting examples of things we could do in isolation but often choose to do with others.
Exercise is one of those things that actually make a lot of sense to do with a partner. I have been exercising for over 40 years so my experience with exercise has evolved quite a bit. And while I do tend to prefer solitude more than many people I know, I recognize that exercising with a partner has always been more productive.
Some of the benefits of exercising with a partner can be illustrated with a couple of simple examples. Imagine that you are running. I don’t care if you are running for 100 yards or 100 miles, running with someone will make you push yourself more. No one wants to lose and no one wants to be the first to quit.
Another example I will use comes from my personal experience of going through Navy boot camp in the mid-70s. I was lied to by my recruiter, He assured me that they no longer had recruits run in boot camp. This was before the internet, so I had no good way to check the information. And I had already signed my papers, so he had no reason to lie. Upon arrival at the US Naval Training Station in San Diego I was loudly informed that I would run 2.25 miles in 12 minutes a a requirement of graduation.
I don’t like to run. I was an avid bicyclist, having ridden a $65 JC Penney 10-speed bike from Omaha, NE to southern Minnesota in 1 1/2 days as a 15 year old. But running was just not my thing.
Running as part of a recruit company was helpful. We supported, harassed, humiliated and shamed each other to run. But at the end of the day, we all made the 2.25 miles because we were a team. Those who still weren’t 100% cable of making the 2.25 miles were literally pulled and pushed by the rest of us. We would take turns grabbing the few guys incapable of making the run by their shirts and pulling them along the run. It doesn’t sound like much, but I think we all know people who just aren’t runners.
Over the years I have heard many statistics that offer varying statistics on how much more successful people who exercise with a friend are. I have heard that a person is 7 times as likely to be successful if they exercise with a partner. I don’t remember the source abut my anecdotal experience tells me that makes sense and is probably true.
This shows up when people use a personal trainer as well. It is much easier to let ourselves down than it is to have to report to someone else that we have decided not to do what we said we wanted to do. Even more so if that commitment has a financial cost involved.
Dr. Mercola has an article that shows some actual science about why we succeed, including a pretty interesting experience that proves no one wants to be the first to throw in the towel while exercising.
The bottom line is that working out with a partner is more enjoyable and helps set you up for success. Give it a shot!