How To Help Your Friends Reach Their Fitness Goals

Buddying up can help you reach your fitness resolutions - or whatever goal you happen to be chasing. But you don't have to work out together to help each other (couples, breathe a sigh of relief).

Photo by the US Army.

Try one of these to support your friend:

  • Buy them time. If your buddy has kids, offer to babysit. This is a key one for couples, too: when my spouse happily volunteers for kid duty, I'm much more likely to go out for that run than when he gives a grudging "fine, go ahead."
  • Encourage them. Heart their post-workout selfies. Show you care. You don't have to join your runner friend on that 10-miler, but you can meet her for brunch afterward and tell her how awesome she is.
  • Remind them. Not in a nagging way, of course! You and your buddy can agree to discuss your plans and keep them front-of-mind. And if he needs a morning wake-up call to make sure he's getting to that early open swim? Volunteer to pick up the phone

People who support others in their goals end up feeling good about themselves, too, says Ed Orehek, who researches the social psychology of goal setting. Studies show that the person who receives the support is not only more likely to reach their goal, but they also see that person as being a better friend and more enjoyable to be around.

If you're the person asking for help, don't worry if you can't make it a two-way street. Orehek points out that people are more willing to help than we give them credit for. There are only really two secrets to finding a good helper: the person has to want to help (no guilting them into it), and the helper should be someone who can effectively help you.

So if your friend isn't an early riser, don't ask them to call you with pre-dawn pep talks. They might say yes, but then they will feel guilty or burned out if they can't make good on their promise.


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