Spending time with friends is a great way to blow off some steam and get into a positive headspace, and social fitness is an excellent way to boost your motivation to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Also, you can transform that coffee date or dinner out into a healthy eating opportunity with a little creative planning.

So let’s saddle up and take a tour of some ways to have fun and get fit with your friends, family members, and the other special people in your life.

Benefits of Working Out With Friends

There are numerous benefits to social fitness (also known as “exercising with a buddy”). Here are some of the highlights:

Reduce Cancellations

If you make a plan to work out with a friend, you’ll be less likely to cancel your exercise time because you’ve both made a commitment to spend time together. Having a date on the calendar to meet up with someone whose company you enjoy will help you stick to your fitness plan.

Pleasant Distraction

Walking and talking with your family, afriendly co-worker, hitting the fitness center with your bestie, or taking a hike with your neighbor are all great exercise opportunities, and there’s a hidden benefit: if you’ve got someone to chat with while you exercise, it’ll take your mind off any discomfort caused by activity.

Keeping an Ideal Pace

Having a fitness friend to talk with while you exercise is a good way to avoid pushing too hard. Experts suggest that you take the “talk test” to set your speed when engaging in aerobic exercise like jogging or walking. Here’s how it works: you should be able to talk during your workout without huffing and puffing and losing your breath…so having a friend who likes having fun while getting fit can keep you at an ideal pace!

Self-Confidence Boost

One of the hurdles many fitness beginners face is the belief that getting in shape is too hard or experiencing discouragement due to unrealistic expectations. Working out with a friend gives you someone to relate to as you both make strides in your fitness journey. Seeing your buddy be successful with an exercise routine can give you a sense of renewed self-confidence and commitment to your own fitness goals.

Making the Most of Your Fitness Center

If you want to improve your strength and flexibility by hitting the weight room, having a workout partner can help because you will always have someone to spot you. Also, if you decide to try using a personal trainer at your fitness center, you can often split the cost of sessions with your gym buddy so that you both save some cash while working to accomplish your goals.

Social Fitness Ideas: Activities to Share With Friends

The sky is the limit when it comes to possible social fitness options, but here are a few top choices for fun fitness time:

  • Hit the Trails: Take a walk, jog, or bike ride at a local park or greenway. Even getting out of your office chair and taking a lunchtime stroll with a co-worker around the office building is a chance to burn some calories and enjoy the fresh air and good company.
  • Join a Fitness Center: There are many affordable gyms and fitness centers that offer classes, exercise equipment, pools, and other great exercise options. Pick a day (or two, or five!) of the week when both you and your workout buddy can commit to going to the fitness center, select some activities you both like, and set your exercise plan in motion! One of the benefits of this is that you can’t be stopped by bad weather, and since many fitness centers have lots of different choices, you don’t run the risk of treadmill burnout because you can do different exercises and change up your specific routine each time you go.
  • Sign Up for a Social Club or Exercise-Related Meetup Group: If you’re a social butterfly and love meeting new people, sign up for one of the NC Triangle’s many adult sports clubs or fitness-related Meetup groups. This will give you a chance to make new friends and establish a routine, because these organizations have regularly scheduled events, practices, and games that will keep you motivated and going back for more!
  • Exercise at Home With YouTube or a Fitness Video: As winter approaches, cold and rainy days are on the way, but you can’t let that get in the way of your social fitness goals! YouTube has loads of fun aerobic and flexibility/strength routines you can get for free, and you and your exercise buddy can switch off playing host or hostess. That way, you both keep making progress, no matter what the crazy North Carolina weather is doing.

Healthy Eating – Outings With Friends

If you’re working with a Registered Dietitian to establish some healthy routines and lifestyle changes, part of your journey will be building an awesome eating plan that’s packed with nutritious foods.

One of the challenges we all face is the temptation of unhealthy food when we go out to eat, and restaurants typically don’t make it any easier because they tend to serve huge portions of calorie-rich food. Here are a few ideas to help you stick to a healthy diet during a social outing:

#1: Split A Meal

Sharing a meal with a friend or your date is a great way to keep your portion size under control. It’s also fun, because picking something from the menu together is a sure-fire conversation starter and a chance to bond over your shared tastes.

#2: Have a Healthy Dinner Party

Although there are some wonderful restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, it can be hard to find a bite to eat that’s up to your healthy eating standards. So why not invite a friend over for a home cooked meal instead? Pinterest and other websites are chock full of easy, delicious, and healthy recipes that will keep your dinner party stress-free and good for you too!

#3: Skip the Sugary Drinks

It’s the season of delicious lattes, hot chocolate and other sweet, delicious drinks, and one way to keep your diet in check is to drink beverages that aren’t packed with sugar and fat. Next time you schedule a coffee date with a friend, meet up at a place that has a selection of festive herbal teas and gourmet black coffees to choose from instead.

#4: Visit the Farmers Market or Take a Farm Tour

Shopping for healthy food doesn’t have to be boring, and it can be a chance to get in a good walk while you’re at it. So here’s an idea: invite a friend the next time you’re going to hit the farmers markets for fresh NC produce and make it into a fun social outing. Also, many farms host tours, which is a good opportunity to get outside for a brisk walk, enjoy a friend’s company, and get to know your friendly local farmers.