Social interaction could be key to kick-starting a fitness regime, US research suggests.
After analysing data, including from the US Military Academy, scientists at Kean University recommended social activities that boosted interactions between less- and more-active people.
When the less active interacted with those who exercised regularly, they felt encouraged, the researchers found.
But those who were less social ended up exercising less.
Regular exercise has already been cited as something that improves mental health significantly, with many finding group activity helpful.
There are many ways to combine socialising and exercising, such as:
  • walking with friends
  • playing five-a-side
  • taking a fitness class
‘It gives you accountability’
Exercising with a friend requires commitment and accountability, Andre Bates, of Barry’s Bootcamp, which holds group exercise classes across the UK, says.
“It’s very easy not to go and exercise when you’re relying on yourself – but with a friend, you can use each other for motivation to make sure you stick at what you set out to do,” he says.
And although some might be at a different level of fitness to others, everyone is trying to achieve the same thing.
“Everyone is on their own individual journey,” Andre says. “Rather than looking at someone as competition, look at them as a benchmark of what you want to be and don’t be afraid to ask them about it and see how they got there.
“We’re all pushing for the same purpose, whether it’s mental improvement, physical improvement, fitness or performance – everyone is here to improve.”
‘Really changed my life’
Kai Hunter, 25, who lives in Cardiff, started exercising regularly six months ago – after finding motivation from his group of friends.

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