WHY ACCOUNTABILITY MATTERS
Originally posted on the FIT4MOM blog.
We get it, Mama—joining group fitness can be intimidating, especially if you're new to a program or you haven't worked out in a while (or ever). The thing is, there's something magical about group fitness. It's not just about surrounding yourself with like-minded people (though our Village is an amazing benefit) … it's that little extra push to wake up early, to finish that last set of squats, or to run all-out as you finish a race.
We're not making it up—promise! A study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that participants gravitate towards the exercise behaviors of those around them. Another study, published in the November edition of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, found that individuals who work out in a group have a 26 percent lower stress rate and improved quality of life compared to people who work out solo. So what's the deal?
THE MAGICAL INGREDIENT
Accountability is truly a game-changer when it comes to adherence to an exercise or nutrition program. Accountability, in its most basic form, means being subject to explain or justify something or to be held responsible for something. Gretchen Rubin, author of “Better Than Before,” a book about forming healthy habits, says that accountability is an important tool for making and breaking habits. Maybe you've heard the famous African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together". We're channeling that same energy here.
The reality is that a very small percentage of the population has enough intrinsic motivation, the kind that makes us do something because the behavior itself is enjoyable or satisfying, to stick to a workout plan on their own. For the majority of us, the accountability of the group can make up for where motivation is lacking, or when the motivation starts to fade away. Group exercise can turn working out into a fun social activity, which could lead to you continuing to do it.
"The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone," Dayna Yorks, of the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, said in a news release.
As humans, we crave connection. Surrounding yourself with a group of similar people can make the process of exercising easier, more enjoyable, and more habitual. Friends can serve as positive role models, provide reminders and encouragement, and even serve as a little friendly competition! Aside from the physical benefits, research has shown that people who feel more connected in their exercise class attend more sessions, arrive on time, are less likely to drop out, are more resistant to disruption, and are more likely to have greater mental benefits from the exercise.
WHO CAN BE AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER?
Identifying an accountability partner creates the sense that someone is looking out for you. Succeeding and reaching your goals makes them happy for you, which in turn will make you happy for you. Crazy how impactful human relationships can be!
This could be a spouse, a friend, a coach, a neighbor, or even a small group of people... ah hem, your FIT4MOM village. The main criteria? That you can count on your accountability partner (or group) to keep you honest when it comes to making healthy choices and to support you with love and grace (even if sometimes it's tough love).
Body Well® is a great example of this—not only is there an instructor that helps hold you accountable to the workouts and nutrition guidance, but there is a small group of women that are working through the same program and helping hold each other accountable, as well.
The fact that group fitness classes, like all of ours, occur on a set day and time also works wonders with creating structure around physical activity! As opposed to hoping you’ll make it to the gym at some point during the day, choosing a class to attend and signing up in advance creates a greater sense of accountability and enables you to plan your day around your workout (and your health!). Win, Win!
We can't wait to meet you, Mama! You deserve to find your Strength in Motherhood®.