Who you choose as a workout buddy could determine how effective your exercise will be. Researchers determined that young women who trained with a teammate they perceived to be a better performer were able to quadruple their workout time and intensity.
“People like to exercise with others and make it a social activity,” lead researcher Brandon Irwin, a professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University said in a statement. “We found that when you’re performing with someone who you perceive as a little better than you, you tend to give more effort than you normally would alone.”
As part of the study, Irwin and team had female college students ride a stationary bike alone in a lab setting for as long as they liked. The group averaged about 10 minutes of riding time. Subsequently, they had the same group exercise again in the lab setting, although this time, members of the group were told they had a partner in another lab, whom they could see on a TV monitor. In fact, the monitor displayed a looping video, not a live feed of another participant. The researchers told the participants that their virtual partners had performed 40 percent better on the initial solitary bike session, giving the impression that the partner was the stronger athlete. In this scenario, participants nearly doubled their bike times—adding on an average nine minutes, for a total of 19 minutes.
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