(image from pixabay)
The health benefits of friendship are seemingly endless, but today I am going to talk about how friends can hold you accountable to change unhealthy habits, and support you through the process (just as you can support others).
Who better to have, than a friend, when you are trying to exercise more. Research at the University of Aberdeen has shown that exercising with a companion (or friend!) can improve the results of an exercise regime. Essentially, when you want to achieve things in life, and specifically a health related goal, it is all the more easier when you have a friend supporting you. A friend's support can:
1. Increase your commitment to your health goal.
2. Push you a little more each day/week to improve your fitness level.
3. Share your progress with an hold accountability for showing up every day/week for exercise.
For me my exercise of choice in the past few years has been walking.
I have had a few particular friend's who have encouraged me to walk regularly.... and each walking partnership is significant in its own way. The walking whiz that is Tara was the first, Tara had (and still has) a dream for me - to walk The Camino across Spain. Walking with Tara saw our friendship develop in a beautiful way - trust, closeness, and unending support for the other beyond just walking. When I walked with Tara it wasn't just a stroll around the park, it was a pushing of physical, mental, and emotional limits, a confrontation of stolid beliefs about my 'self' that needed changing. Tara helped me grow beyond these beliefs, she helped me see that I was capable of much more than I gave myself credit for.
Next came Anj (from Inspiring Women Changemakers). Walks with Anj are never about the physical challenge, but about the spiritual challenge. Our walks are about nature, and that bond that develops from a love of trees, birds, flowers, butterflies, and dragonflies. Quick walks that happen locally, we discuss philosophy and spirit, inspired by the surroundings. Having said that issues and beliefs of other sorts are confronted, my own feelings of guilt about holding people back, etc by my physical and emotional limitations. Anj makes it alright though - her friendship is steady and accepting of all of my quirks and foibles.
Then came Fred (The Happiness Speaker), my friend, RWS business partner, and walking companion on a level playing field. We both have our physical limitations, but through encouragement and commitment, we ensure that we get through the shortest of, and the longest of walks (of which both of us are capable). Being business partners of RWS | Resilience Wellbeing Success, a lot of our walks become inadvertent business meetings.... but there is proof that walking meetings are much better for you, walking meetings increase creativity, increase energy, and allow for better communication. So for Fred and I, our friendship bond increases, we hold each other accountable, and our business continues to grow as we live by our philosophy of resilience and wellbeing.
Do you have friend/s you can walk with on a regular basis? Is there a walking group you can join and where you can make new friends? Keep your mind open, get into nature, and build bonds with the people who matter.