By Sarah Kinonen. Photos: Getty Images.
No matter how I'm working out — whether I'm spinning to hit the top spot on the Torq Board or "racing" another jogger through Prospect Park — I'm notorious for getting competitive. (Apologies to anyone who's ever worked out with me!) But, as annoying as it may be for my fellow athletes, a new study found that comparing your workouts to others' might actually push you to work harder during your next sweat sesh.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications by scientists of the MIT Sloan School of Management, followed the daily exercise patterns, geographical locations, and social-network ties of more than one million people over a five-year period. Throughout the five-year stint, researchers found that exercise is socially contagious — a feeling I've personally experienced for most of my life, but haven't been able to put into words — and that people feel inclined to work out (oftentimes harder and faster) after seeing someone within their social networks do it first. Basically, if Sally from my newsfeed claims to have run five miles in the park, you better believe I'm throwing on my Nikes and pounding the pavement for a six-miler — and I'm not alone.
Researchers found that men were swayed by fitness activities done by both male and female friends and women were typically only influenced by female friends. Another interesting find? Those labeled "elite athletes" (a.k.a. more experienced runners) tended to be more motivated to work out by people who were less fit than they were than by people at their fitness level: They wanted to "keep ahead of those behind them."
Bottom line, if you're lacking motivation to hit your weekly mileage or need a little extra oomph to get you to spin class, start scrolling through your social media feeds. One of your friends could help you off the couch — and into class — without even realizing it.
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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