No one likes an oversharer when it comes to chronicling gym time and workout sessions. But it turns out that selectively sharing and comparing workouts with the right people could directly influence how well you exercise.
A new study by scientists at MIT Sloan School of Management and published in the journal Nature Communications investigated the effect of social influence on exercise, finding that exercise is socially contagious: Comparing workout habits motivates us to work out harder and more often. Over the course of the five-year study, researchers analyzed the daily exercise habits, geographical locations, and social networks of over a million people. Hearing about the workout successes of our friends pushes us to improve our own performance, be it hitting the gym more often or pushing ourselves to run faster.
It's important to note that the type of people with which you surround yourself and speak about exercise is crucial, as the influence can go the other way as well. "People who are less active influence people who are more active with a greater magnitude than the other way around," Sinal Aral, the study's co-author, describes to New York Magazine's The Cut."Couch potatoes influence marathoners more than marathoners influence couch potatoes."
If you're looking to up your motivation to push yourself harder with your workout routine, consider linking with friends via a Fitbit or running app. Aral also recommends showing your results to friends who exercise, even if they're not your workout buddy. "Get friends who are improving their own health behaviors, because the greatest marginal benefits will come from those friends who themselves are committed to doing better each day," he says.
Ready to commit to a healthier, fitter you? Here's what fitness routine to try, according to your personality.