By Pavitra Sampath (Health.India.com)
August 5, 2013
Want to fit into that sexy black dress? Or sport six pack abs like Hrithik Roshan? Here is your quick fix solution – work out with a buddy.
If research is to be believed, eighty percent of the people who try to lose weight tend to stick to their routine when they exercise with a friend rather than trying it alone (the study was carried out by the Stanford University School of Medicine). Another study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh showed that women were more likely to lose a third more weight than those who exercised alone.
Want to see if the study actually applies to real life? Here is a list of workout regimes you can do with a friend or as a group.
1. Walk it out, bond better!
It may sound easy, but walking is one of the most effective and fun things to do. If done correctly, it helps get your heart rate up, strengthens the muscles of your lower body, works on your core (abs), and helps you breath better. It is a great stress buster and helps you bond. Above all, it is a great way to burn off the calories without hurting your muscles and body.
Tip: Try walking in the open rather than on a treadmill, it helps increase the intake of oxygen and expiration of carbon dioxide. More importantly make sure you walk the right way. Start your step with placing your heel down first and then rolling off the foot (heel to toe). This helps strengthen the muscles at the back of your legs. Your steps should ideally be as wide as your shoulders. Avoid overstepping; it will just make you hurt yourself. If you want to increase your speed try taking shorter and quicker steps.
2. Run like no one’s watching
Is walking too tame for you? Try running. Remember Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway in Bride Wars? Running can be quite boring when done alone, so a buddy just makes it more fun and you are more likely to push each other to do better and go longer distances.
Apart from releasing increased amounts of endorphins or ‘happiness hormones’ in the body making you happier, it also gives you stronger legs, back and core muscles, better lung function and of course weight loss. A down side is that it can cause injury to your knees and ankles if not done properly. Remember you should be able to walk for 20 minutes non-stop before you can start running. (Also read: Why running barefoot is good for your feet)
3. Relive your cycling trips with friends as a kid
This may seem like child’s play to some, but cycling can be a lot of fun even when you are an adult. Cycling, like running engages all the muscles of your lower and upper body. It strengthens your arms and legs working especially on the buttocks and thighs. Therefore it is a great workout for women. It targets the abs and strengthens the upper and lower back. All you need is to invest in is a good bicycle. If you plan to cycle on the roads and not a park or enclosed area, make sure you get appropriate protective gear — like a helmet. To gain maximum benefits, remember to push down the pedal using a greater part of the front of your foot. The down side to this type of exercise is that it may not be possible to practice on the busy roads of metro cities like Mumbai.
4. Have fun dancing together
Getting into shape need not be a boring affair filled with difficult exercises and loads of pain. If you and your BFF prefer fun exercises, try dancing. Regimes like Zumba that are specially tailored to help people lose weight while having fun are made for you. But if you don’t want to enroll in a class or are shy to dance in front of strangers, you could try doing it in the comfort of your home. All you need is some peppy upbeat music, comfortable clothes and a clock. In this type of routine it is essential that you dance for about 20 minutes with an accelerated heart beat to lose weight. The health benefits of dancing are manifold. Apart from helping you lose weight, it strengthens the legs, buttocks, arms and abs. It is a full body workout and even works on the muscles on your face.
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes that do not slip. This will protect your feet and ankle from any injury. Also, start dancing slowly first, and then gradually increase the tempo. This will help you warm up before you really get into it. Zumba is a registered trademark of Zumba® Fitness)
5. Cross your weight out with CrossFit
This is not for the faint hearted. An exercise regime that is designed to make you look and feel like military personnel (specially designed for people in the defence forces like the Army, Navy, Airforce, Police services etc.), it is meant for those of you who are extremely fit or at least want to get there. It combines aerobic exercises, gymnastic or body weight exercises and Olympic weightlifting exercises. The workouts are short – usually for about 30 minutes but are high intensity, fast paced and extremely demanding. It is so designed that you and your buddies can get together and do the exercises that are described on their site as workouts of the day (WOD). It includes a mix of exercises like rope climbing, tyre jumping, tyre flipping, rowing and jumping rope. Because this is so intense, doing it as a circuit is really fun. You get to track each others’ progress and motivate each other to do better. If you choose this for your friend, know that you will come out looking like supermodels but will be in for a tough ride. (CrossFit is a trademark of CrossFit inc.)
Tip: Be sure to do this under the guidance of a trainer. Since it does require a setup to perform (also called ‘the pit’) make sure you choose one that is right for you.
6. Burn it together with P90X
Created by Tony Horton, it is a series of workouts that are aimed at getting you into the best shape of your life, ever! It combines cardio, aerobics, weights, martial arts, yoga and other forms of exercise that can get you ripped in a matter of ninety days. Here, you workout 6 days a week for approximately one and a half hours. There are a set of videos and a schedule you will need to follow. Each day has a different workout and a corresponding video. Unlike CrossFit, this regime has various levels which help you gradually increase your fitness quotient. The good thing about this workout is that it requires minimal equipment and can be done at home. The downside to this is that you will need some amount of space to kick and jump; and you do need to be a little fit (able to walk for 20 minutes continuously) before you start. If you and your buddy are planning to start this schedule, like Tony Horton says, be ready to ‘Bring It!’
7. Power your fitness with power yoga
Here is a regime that will get you into shape, quickly and without the risk of injury. It is a form of the traditional yoga that is more intense because the moves are faster. It mainly focuses on building strength and is a full body workout. The best part of this exercise is that it can be done on your own once you have had a teacher teach you the nuances, and can be practiced in the comfort of your home. The downside is that it can cause injury if practiced alone.
8. Challenge your buddy in a sport
Want to do something fun, yet healthy? Play a sport. It could be anything like badminton, tennis, squash or a group game like football or cricket. Team sports will help you get in shape while helping you bond. Moreover you can challenge each other, making it that much more interesting. Some good old sportsman spirit can go a long way in cementing a friendship.
9. Rough it out with an adventure trip!
If mundane fitness activities don’t excite you, try something adventurous like hiking, kayaking or sailing. All these sports are great to get you into shape while adding that extra element of fun. Although this cannot be done on a regular basis, try making it a weekly plan. There are a number of places that offer the location and equipment to do them.
10. Have fun with water aerobics
No more an exercise routine for the elderly, water aerobics has a number of amazing benefits. Practiced in a pool, it combines the health benefits of swimming with aerobics. It helps burn more calories because the water offers more resistance than air, making your muscles stronger, improving your heart’s health, and helps you lose weight. It also helps by protecting your muscles and joints from injuries due to any harsh movements. The best part is you don’t need to know how to swim to enroll. Basic floating techniques are more than enough. Usually led by a professional, it involves doing aerobic exercises while standing or moving in the shallow end of a pool. Think this is too tame? Your trainer may increase the intensity by making you use foam weights or tubes. The downside to this regime is that if you or your friend don’t like water, it is definitely not the sport for you. So get our your swimming costume and get fit!