Get Fit Together
Friends keep us healthy in so many ways. Studies indicate they can lower blood pressure, improve memory, and even help us get fit: Research from Indiana University shows that people who exercise together are seven times more likely to stick with a routine than those who go it alone.
Stay motivated. When workouts get difficult, friends can be a source of encouragement, says Jim Annesi, Ph.D., director of wellness advancement at the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta. "Exercising with a partner motivates you to work harder and try something new," says Kaitlin Kay, a trainer at Peak Performance gym in New York City.
Buddy up. Try the following workout, designed by Kay. In some of the exercises, you and your friend use each other's body weight as resistance. In others, you rely on your friend's reaction skills. You'll not only increase strength (especially in the lower body and core), you’ll also improve your balance and coordination—and have a lot more fun than exercising solo.
►A 4- to 8-pound medicine ball like the Everlast Rubber Medicine Ball ($25)
►A yoga mat
►A light resistance band
Works your quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles.
A | Stand facing your partner, about two arms’ lengths away. Your feet should be slightly wider than hip-width apart and turned out slightly. Extend your arms forward and grab each other’s wrists, holding on to each other throughout the exercise.
B | Along with your partner, bend your knees and slowly lower your body until your thighs are nearly parallel to the floor (or as close to that position as is comfortable). Communicate with your partner to make sure you’re not going too low for her. And don’t let your knees extend past your toes. Return to standing and repeat.
Do 12 to 15 squats. Rest for one minute and repeat for a total of three sets.
Rear delt row
Works your shoulders.
A | Stand facing your partner and ask her to hold the middle of a resistance band at about chest height. Grab the ends of the band. With your arms extended straight out in front of you at chest height, hands about shoulder-width apart, and palms facing down, step a few feet away from your partner until you feel some resistance in the band.
B | Plant your feet (they should be about shoulder-width apart). As you hold the band, keep your arms parallel to the ground, palms facing down, and pull your elbows back, bringing your wrists close to the sides of your torso. Pretend you’re squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades. (If there’s too much resistance in the band, step closer to your partner.) Slowly release to start and repeat.
Do 12 to 15 repetitions. Then switch positions with your partner. Repeat for a total of three sets.