Workout Buddies Are Great — But Rivals May Be Better

Workout Buddies Are Great — But Rivals May Be Better

Too much comparison won’t make fitness feel fun. But the right amount can do wonders for your motivation, according to a new study.

In it, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania pitted support (from a friendly workout buddy) against competition (from a workout buddy whom you’d love to beat). And the results were pretty interesting, if you’ve ever buddied up with your bestie as a way to up your fitness motivation.


For the study, the research team wanted to analyze online support specifically. To do so, they randomly assigned 722 college students to one of four groups comprised or either supportive or competitive relationships, and either individual or team incentives for attending in-real-life exercise classes.

The four groups were as follows:

  • Participants were in 6-person competitive networks with individual incentives (social comparison condition)
  • Or 6-person teams with team incentives (social support condition)
  • Or 6-person teams, where participants could compare their team’s performance to 5 other teams’ performances (combined condition)
  • Or a control condition that only allowed participants to attend classes with individual incentives (control condition)

Rewards were given either for the number of classes attended by an individual or as a team.

In the end, a team environment won out: Attendance numbers were 90 percent higher in the social comparison and combined condition groups — meaning that social comparison was far more effective at increasing physical activity than social support, regardless of whether the incentives are team or individual based.

To us, that sounds a lot like Stridekick’s model, where a little bit of friendly competition can go a long way toward your goals.


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