Buddies Boost Motivation

Cyber exercise partners help you go the distance

workout buddies

A recent study at Michigan State University’s department of kinesiology revealed that having an exercise “buddy” – even a virtual one – can significantly boost motivation to stick to an exercise program, by as much as 100 percent.

The research validated that workout buddies are good for each other. Published on May 24, 2012 by Brandon Irwin in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, the research showed that women on exercise bikes “exercised twice as long when working with a virtual partner”, results the authors said can be just what some people need to help them finally get active and stay healthy.

For so many of us, the truth is we know we should get active, and sometimes we have been warned by a physician to make healthy changes – or else. Lack of motivation is such a huge barrier to overcoming our comfortable “status quo” lifestyle that it becomes a continuous cycle of “I’ll start on Monday…”. We become particularly adept at starting a program, only to fizzle out after a couple of weeks, or perhaps if we’re lucky, a couple of months. The initial burst of excitement and anticipation of achieving our goals dwindles to dust, and we feel the sting of failure, often losing any valuable ground we managed to gain along the way, not to mention the moral defeat. Read on to see how a simple thing like a little moral support creates accountability and increases your chances for success.

The “buddy study”

In the MSU study, 58 women recruited from physical activity courses participated by taking part in one of three groups:

  • Group 1 exercised on their own alongside a virtual person (subjects were told there was a “partner”, who they met via online video chat,  who was working out at the same time, on a similar bike, in an adjacent room)
  • Group 2 exercised on their own alongside a virtual person, but also as a member of a team
  • Group 3 exercised alone
Cyber partners
Photo by Derrick Turner
As an added dimension, the subjects were told that their partner’s performance was moderately better than their own. Participants tracked their partner’s progress and were asked to rate themselves on their intention to exercise again, how well they felt they had done, and how tired they felt.

Which group do you think did the best?


Overall, Group 1 (virtual partner) did better than Group 3 (exercising alone), and Group two (virtual partner AND part of a team) did the best. In fact, on average, the women who were part of a team stayed on the bike two minutes longer (22 vs 20 minutes), and TWICE as long as the women who were left to exercise alone (22 vs 11 minutes).


As far as intent to exercise again, huge differences were found between the “alone” cyclers and the “partnered” cyclers. The cyclers who were on their own indicated a large decline in motivation to exercise again. Interestingly, the cyclers on a team with their partners – even virtual partners whom they had never met – reported NO DECLINE in their motivation to exercise at all.

So What?

So what does this mean for you? Is working out alone and seeing great results impossible? HEC, NO! In fact, I’m living proof that it is possible, and I’ve put my own personal accountability on the line with my YouTube journey with home exercise DVDs.

Maybe you’re totally satisfied with your current situation in life – your relationships, finances, your health. If that’s the case, you are definitely doing something right, so I say congratulations! You are probably inspiring others, maybe without even realizing it. Or maybe you are at the point where you know you need to take action.

Action or Excuse?

I’ve learned in life that we can be all about ACTION or EXCUSES.

I personally know I need accountability and support, and although I didn’t need a study to reaffirm this, it’s nice to get some credentialed validation. Do you believe having a support system would help you achieve your health & fitness goals? I would love to work with you to help your goals become reality. So if you are ready to lose those first 10 pounds, and let’s talk right away! I can’t wait to hear from you!


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