Step up the support
Fitness expert, Craig Wise explains the importance of having an activity buddy.
It seems that every four years many sports have their big events, whether it’s the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or World Cups. We sit and cheer for our heroes as they put their bodies on the line for their game or event.
What we don’t see are the hours of hard work they have put in – and the support they have had from family and friends who have stood at the sidelines whatever the weather, driven them to and from training, and kept them mentally upbeat when things got tough.
We don’t need to be a professional sports star to need some help and encouragement. After my break from exercise (see Craig’s article in Autumn 2018), I needed to get myself back into action mode again. I can tell you it’s not easy. So, I did what every one of those professional sportspeople do, I turned to my support crew to get me moving.
There are many reasons why having a support person is so important – to motivate, make things fun, or compete against. Support people can come in many forms from friends and family (our most important resource), to the sales people at local sports stores, boot camps, walking clubs or charity and event organisers. You can also ask your GP to prescribe a Green Prescription.
WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT HAVING AN ACTIVITY PARTNER?
Motivation and accountability – Sometimes the going gets tough and you need a little push to keep moving in the right direction. Having someone right there keeping you on track can be the key to breaking through. As a mobile personal trainer there are many times that I have turned up at a client’s house and the only reason that they are working out that day is because I have knocked on their door and got them going.
Socialisation – Activity time passes much quicker when it is done with a buddy and often the length of the activity extends because as we all know “time flies when you are having fun”. Walking with music in your ears is enjoyable but walking and talking with a friend has greater mental health benefits.
The pick-me-up – Should you fail or hit the wall, a partner is there to get you back on track. A good activity partner will be the one who tells you to put down the sausage roll and strap back on your running shoes.
Strengthening relationships – Joint activities and shared stories of battle scars received on the pathway to health and fitness can strengthen relationships with those on the journey with you.
Taking risks – If you are unsure about joining a local club or learning something new like salsa dancing, it’s much less of a daunting task if you are going into it with a friend.
In 2011 a study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise showed that the exercise habits of people you know has a positive (or negative) influence on your activity habits. So getting up and moving might just be the thing to help those around you to do the same.
Craig’s tips for picking the
perfect activity partner
• Choose someone who is of a similar level of health, fitness
and ability – or you could be held back or pushed too hard,
which can lead to disappointment or injury.
• Your activity partner doesn’t have to be your husband, wife
or best friend, but you need to have an emotional tie and it
needs to be someone who you wouldn’t want to let down. If
you feel a level of responsibility or commitment towards your
activity partner you are more likely to follow through, even on
those days when you don’t feel like it.
• Choose someone who you trust. The last thing that either of
you want is your fitness failures becoming a social nightmare.
• Check time compatibility – make sure you choose an activity
partner who has times to exercise when you do. And make
sure that you both write your activity time in diaries, that way
other commitments won’t creep into your time together.
• Find someone who you can laugh with through the tough
times. It’s true what they say – laughter really is the greatest medicine.