Friday, April 15, 2011

Lousy fitness advice is lousy

Fitness gurus will often tell us that one of the most effective ways to stick with an exercise program is to have a workout partner.

The logic is that you'll be more motivated to get-up-and-go if you're accountable to someone other than your own lazy self. It's also much more socially acceptable to grunt and grimace your way through a set if someone else is grunting and grimacing right alongside you. And speaking for myself, having a partner is always welcome because it sometimes ends in brunch. Win-win!

Not so, says a recent article in Psychology Today:
If you want to feel good about yourself while exercising, then try to work out among others who are unfit and unattractive. If you want to enjoy your experience the most however, you might consider exercising alone.
Oh dear. Where do I start?

First of all, I dare you to actually discreetly sell someone on this plan. "Hey, you look like you were scraped from the bottom of the DNA barrel. Care for a jog?" I'm sure they'll appreciate that. Not to mention, working out with someone who's considerably less fit than you are will be frustrating for both of you, and you'll look every bit the asshole you are.

Second, this article assumes that my single motivation for exercise is to feel attractive. Because if cardiovascular health or endurance was the objective, I know I'd prefer working out with people who are going to challenge me, i.e., people more fit than I am. I know, I am such a weirdo.

Finally, this:
We all need regular physical exercise for our health and well being but few of us are able to do it on a consistent basis. So, we need all the help we can get to not only fit exercise into our busy schedules but to also feel good while (and after) doing it. Being mindful of the environment that you're in while exercising may help you get the most out of the experience.
Know what helps you feel great about yourself during a workout? Doing it for the right reasons.