Would you exercise longer and more effectively if competition were part of the experience? A study from Michigan State suggests that the best approach to developing a longer, better workout may be exercising with a partner who is stronger than you.
Researcher Brandon Irwin, assistant professor of kinesiology at Kansas State University, noted that most people don’t meet the goal of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. He recruited 58 female Michigan State students and assessed their physical fitness and regular physical activity. During the study, the students exercised on a stationary bike for six 60-minute sessions over four weeks.
When the students returned to the lab for additional sessions, they were told that they would work out with a partner in another lab who they could see on a video screen (the “partner” was a looped video). At first, the study participants exercised about nine minutes longer than when they didn’t have a “partner” but when the students were told they were being scored as part of a “team” with their fit partner, they exercised 200 percent longer than those without partners.