Research is increasingly showing the importance of social interaction in influencing human behaviour. This is because the way we behave is strongly affected by our colleagues, friends and family. Here's how some Vitality members are making the most of this.
Two heads are better than one, they say - and two bodies too, when it comes to an exercise regime! If you're struggling to stick to a training schedule, the solution could be as simple as finding a friend. Behavioural research shows that exercising with a peer or loved one doesn't just offer more accountability, but also more satisfaction.
Training together taps into both our human desire for approval, and our capacity to influence others. Here's how some Vitality members took their health and fitness to the next level by teaming up with someone:
"We push ourselves far more than we would alone" - Sue and JP
Entrepreneur and mom Sue Duminy once encouraged young romantics searching for a soul mate with the words, "Look for a man who supports you, motivates you and will fight for you." She found all that and more in her Protea-cricketer hubby, JP. The two have been exercising together for 10 years now, and attest that training together has helped strengthen their bond.
Sue recommends buddying up for workouts, saying: "We are both very competitive, so when we train together, we always push ourselves far more than we would working out alone." While their workouts differ substantially - JP focuses on fitness and strength training, while Sue enjoys lighter weights and spinning - they love playing golf, table tennis and bowling in their off-time, so they're always on the go. When asked how they motivate each other, Sue admits: "We have a very open and honest relationship, so we welcome constructive criticism. We don't get offended but rather chuckle and start working out!"
"We welcome constructive criticism. We don't get offended but rather start working out!"
"It really helps to have a buddy system" - Su-Yen and Carla
Su-Yen Thornhill and Carla Farina met at a spinning class. Soon thereafter Su-Yen - a well-known local chef - made Carla energy bars for a Half Ironman event - not knowing about her peanut allergy. "Those almost killed me," says Carla - who had to skip the event as a result. Luckily, that was the start and not end of a beautiful friendship! The two together trained for a Half Ironman the following year and are currently training for the Wildseries Three Cranes Challenge, a three-day stage race in the Karkloof Conservation Centre.
"There is always someone to laugh and share the pain with, and coffee is much nicer with a friend after a hard session."
Su-yen says: "It's been super cool to have a friend to train and go to races with. The events become holidays, road trips and adventures. Carla and I put in several hours of running, swimming and rehab a week around our other commitments." Carla adds: "It really helps to have a buddy system. There is always someone to laugh and share the pain with, and coffee is much nicer with a friend after a hard session." Carla adds: "I've motivated lots of my friends to not only join Vitality Active Rewards but to reach their goals. It's cool that I have a friend who is as obsessed with getting points as I am."
Partners in life and on the road - Jateen and Ayesha
Ayesha Khan, an enterprise performance management consultant and her husband Jateen Bhana, an athletics coach, are a poster couple for the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Ayesha speaks about her husband with palpable pride. "He is so into his running and coaching his athletes," she explains. Jateen frequently takes part in road running races and has completed four Comrades Marathons with significantly better times every year. Changes he made to his diet and lifestyle saw him lose 12kg and significantly enhance his natural running ability.
"Training together taps into both our human desire for approval, and our capacity to influence others."
"I am a morning runner," says Ayesha, who averages 8 to 10km a day, while Jateen accomplishes between 15 and 25km on his daily runs. "Sometimes we run together. We alternate these distance sessions with hills training and speed work to spice things up a bit, with rest days in between." Ayesha and Jateen cross train by doing boxing for core and overall strength and conditioning. "Training together balances everything out. No matter how stressed we are at work or in life, we are better able to cope. We have better energy. We sleep better," Ayesha says. "And we feel good!"
Twin ambitions from childhood to the Comrades - Carol and Cobie
Twins Carol and Cobie started running together when they were nine years old, and have hardly stopped since. They credit a great primary school coach for discovering their running talent. The sisters used to show up an hour before school started just to train. Now at 33 years old, all their effort is showing results. The pair joined Team Vitality four years ago when the club first launched, and are active members who enjoy planning races they can both compete in.
Carol says, "When it comes to races, it's not always easy to run with a partner, depending on your [different] fitness levels. But your running partner can encourage you not to give up and push you over the finish line." When it comes to inspiring each other, she says: "We love running, so we don't always need motivation. But we do get our off days. Then we just remind each other about what we want to achieve in upcoming races and this year's Comrades, and that motivates us to try and stick to our training plan and push ourselves beyond our limits. There is always room for improvement!"
"We love running, but we do get our off days. Then we just remind each other about what we want to achieve... that motivates us to try and stick to our training plan."
"Train together to stay together" - Dane and Ashleigh
"Couples who train together really do stay together. Who else could understand 4am winter morning runs?" asks Dane van Tonder. "My fiancée Ashleigh Schnetler has always had passion for running. Over the past 7 years, I've gone from following her in a car on her Sunday morning runs to full-blown training partner. We would not be the athletes we are today without each other's support," says Dane.
"We would not be the athletes we are today if without each other's support."
In fact, they're such enthusiasts that Dane proposed to Ashleigh with a pair of running shoes on which the words 'Marry' and 'Me' were printed. The young couple is currently in training for their first full Ironman in April 2018. "I am incredibly lucky to have someone who I can train with every day whom I love dearly," says Dane.
Need more motivation? Become a winner by getting fitter!
Vitality Active Rewards encourages you to work out more frequently, in a variety of ways, by giving you weekly rewards for meeting your personalised physical activity goals. You can also earn exciting surprise rewards for achieving 3-in-a-row goal streaks!
Rewards range from drinks and snacks to retail rewards from partners like Cape Union Mart and Nando's, to weekends away and even dream international holidays. Become a winner by getting fitter: join Vitality today and activate Vitality Active Rewards on the latest version of the Discovery app.
How many times have you made a New Year's resolution to "get healthy" that didn't last a month? Don't worry, we're not judging. Fact is - it's pretty tough to stick to resolutions. And according to behavioural economists, it takes a lot more than sheer willpower.
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