Your friends wield more influence over you than just about anyone. In fact, studies show that the only thing better at making you stick to a workout than a supportive friend is having Jake Gyllenhaal bike shirtless ahead of you in Spin class. OK, we made that up. Really nothing is more effective than taking on these fun, super-easy ways to stay healthy together.
Train for a 5 or 10K walk or run together.
Just having a tangible goal will keep you both on track. But if you need extra incentive to commit, choose a relay race with a couple other pals so you’re counting on each other. Or pick an event in another city so you can’t crap out when there’s a $300 plane ticket on the line. For a comprehensive list of races and events for athletes of all levels around the globe, check out active.com.
Trade iPods before you go for a run.
Even if her Flo Rida makes your ears bleed, it could actually make you jog faster. And not just because you’re racing to get home and end the sonic torture. The novelty of not knowing what song comes next will keep you going longer than that playlist you’ve already heard 80 billion times.
Start your own exercise “class.”
The $15-a-session fee for group yoga, Pilates and cardio classes hurts almost as much as your quads do afterward. But you can still get regular instruction from a pro — just do a new total body workout DVD every week. (You can find hundreds of inexpensive programs rated by fitness experts here or plenty for free at your local library.) Treat it just like you would a class with a specific time and place, which can be one of your living rooms. And who wouldn’t want Richard Simmons in theirs?
Dog walk together.
Regardless of whether it’s for cash or to help a rescue mutt, you’ll both get a boost from a four-legged friend. A study from the State University of New York at Buffalo showed that when have to accomplish a task you don’t enjoy (aka, getting off your couch), doing it with a pet actually reduces your levels of stress about it.
Split a trainer.
More people dropping their gym memberships these days means fewer clients for personal trainers. A quick check of fitness services on Craigslist will turn up plenty of pros in your area who are willing to cut their regular rates just to make ends meet. To ensure they’re not just some yahoo with a weight belt and a ‘roid addiction, go here to find one certified by the American Council on Exercise.
Take a self-defense class.
You know your bestie always has your back. But when she can’t physically, it pays to know how to protect yourself through martial arts and other tactical physical moves. And nothing’s hotter than being able to say you can kick butt and mean it.
Go out dancing.
It’s something you often just forget about when you make Saturday night plans. But it burns 200 more calories per hour than planting your ass on a bar stool.
Join a sports team.
Even if you’re usually more comfortable as spectator, plenty of leagues offer ultra-casual versions of playground favorites like dodgeball or kickball. And unlike the third grade, you won’t feel so lame whiffing it up at the plate because you’ll have a guaranteed cheerleader in the bullpen.