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New and supportive gym partner 'boosts workouts'

Gym
Image caption 'Gym buddies' were said to be key

A new and supportive exercise partner can boost gym workout levels, a study has found.

A University of Aberdeen team said a new companion increased the amount of exercise people took.

The findings suggested this was even more the case when the new partner was "emotionally supportive".

The study assessed the benefits of a new exercise companion and the specific qualities that make what was described as a good "gym buddy".

Dr Pamela Rackow, from the university's Institute of Applied Health Sciences. and her team asked half of the participants to find a new gym buddy and the other half to continue with their normal routine.

The results showed that the group who found a new exercise partner did more than those who followed their regular exercise routine.

Motivation tips

Dr Rackow said: "The idea of this study was to test in a very natural setting what is happening when two people get together with the aim to exercise more.

"I had read motivation tips in a leaflet that suggested that having an exercise companion would help me to exercise more but I wanted to know if this was true.

"This study is unique in that it reflects natural life relatively well because when you decide to exercise with a friend you ask someone in your normal social network regardless of whether they fit certain criteria or not."

Image copyright Science Photo Library

The researchers asked participants to rate how supportive their partners were and what kind of support was most effective.

They divided support into two types - emotional and instrumental.

'Encourage each other'

They found that people exercised more when their companion offered emotional support and encouragement rather than practical support, such as never missing a session.

Dr Rackow added: "Once we found that having a new exercise companion increases exercise frequency we wanted to find out why this is beneficial and what quality of support they offer that has this effect.

"Our results showed that the emotional social support by the new sports companion was the most effective.

"Thus, it is more important to encourage each other than doing the actual activity together."

Image copyright Science Photo Library

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