It is no mystery that your confidence and motivation improves when you are alongside a friend. Say your friend says then ran 5k at the weekend, you automatically feel the need to do so yourself (in most cases). It is quite often the case that your gym workouts become more effective when you workout alongside one of your friends as well.
Friends have a major influence on a person’s exercise routine
Men are more influenced by both their male and female friends whereas women are more influenced by other women. Less active people are more likely to be motivated by more active people.
The authors of the Nature Communications study, Sinan Aral and Christos Nicolaides, suggested men have no influence on women when it comes to fitness potentially because there are “gender differences in the motivations for exercises and competition”. “For example, men report receiving and being more influenced by social support in their decision to adopt exercise behaviours, while women report being more motivated by self-regulation and individual planning,” they wrote.
Peer exercising brings in the results
Research that has been carried out extensively over the years has found and measure the contagion amongst peers who are using an exercise tracker. After the participants went on a run, the results were immediately shared with their friends across various social media platforms. The study also discovered that not only are we inspired by the activities of our friends to go out and get fit, but we also display our own competitive streak by wanting to outperform our friends.
When one of the participant’s friends completed a kilometre in their run, their friend was encouraged to run an additional 0.3 kilometres. If their friend ran for an additional ten minutes, the participant was encouraged to run for three more minutes. This meant an extra 10 calories was burnt.
Researchers concluded that social intervention strategies “may spread behaviour change in networks more effectively than policies that ignore social spillovers” but also stressed their findings are only “suggestive”.
“These results suggest interventions that account for social contagion will spread behaviour change more effectively.”