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Using "Buddies" Can Help You Succeed in Your Fitness Program

Enlisting "workout buddies" or a similar type of support system can increase your success.

In fact, this type of support can be critical in dealing with obstacles concerning getting and staying motivated to exercise, eat healthy and adopt other healthy behaviors, findings of a new study indicate.

People who have a personal support system, whether it be a friend, family member or personal trainer, are far more likely to adopt and stick with a program of physical activity than people who have no social support, according to the study of 8,000 HealthPartners members.

"With a total of only a few hours of counseling over a six-month period, we found that our members were much more likely to become and remain physically active," said Nico Pronk, Ph.D., director of the HealthPartners Center for Health Promotion.

Moreover, the personal support offered in counseling can help prevent people from relapsing from a state of regular physical activity back to a state of relative inactivity, the study found.

"We know that if people create a support system for themselves, they are much more likely to continue their physical activity," said Pronk. "This can be as easy as having a neighbor stop by at a set time each day to go for a walk."

A number of tips you can use to stay motivated, Wagner suggested, include:

Develop a support system by enlisting the help of family and friends.

Make activity a priority every day.

Post a note on the refrigerator each day as a reminder to take a walk.

Park in the furthest spot away from the office.

Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator.

Walk to lunch whenever possible. Try creating a lunchtime walking club with your co-workers, during which you can walk to local restaurants several days a week, or, if that's not feasible, set aside a certain amount of your lunchtime to walk around the company campus or parking lot.

Bring athletic shoes to work and set time out each day to walk.

And, finally, set measurable, attainable goals and reward yourself as they are achieved. These rewards don't have to be earth-shattering either. You can reward yourself with a night out or some special "family time."

Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing

© 2001 Health Resources Publishing