Go it alone or phone a friend – Is exercise better with others?

There are plenty of ways to get fit from learning to run to virtual spin classes at your gym. And some ways of working out are more naturally done with a group than alone. But if you have a choice of whether to exercise with a friend or on your own what should you choose?

Phone a friend

For a lot of people, having someone else alongside motivates them to push that little bit harder and get a bit more out of the exercise. Even if you don’t make an explicit agreement to compete a lot of people will find themselves subconsciously “racing” with their exercise partner. Whether that means turning up the treadmill, keeping in front or simply doing more reps.

Some activities, such as running and cycling, are safer if you do them in a group. If you have a fall or your equipment fails you have someone else to pick you up – or fetch help! If you’re considering heading off into the wilds then 3 is the magic number as if  the worse does happen then someone can fetch help. All without leaving the casualty unattended.

Having an arrangement with a friend is also a great motivator if you’re the sort of person who’s more inclined to roll over and hit snooze than jump out of bed to pull your trainers on. It’s far harder to rationalise letting down a mate than letting down yourself.

Go it alone

Sometimes though it’s nice just to be spontaneous. To wake up, see it’s a beautiful day and head off for a run. Or to decide to swim instead of gym. If you’ve arranged to meet with a friend it can put a damper on that spontaneity.

Many people like to treat their exercise time as a time to get away from it all – almost like a form of active meditation or mindfulness. By only having their exercise to concentrate on it allows their mind to rest and wind down. This is in a way they can find hard at other times. And for these people exercising alone is the way they prefer.

Find a group

There is a third way and that is group exercise. You can get a lot of the motivation and competitive benefits of exercising with a friend. All without needing to persuade a friend to get up and come with you. You don’t need to keep up small talk and what you’re doing for Christmas this year or feel you’re holding them back if you can’t keep up.


Running groups and cycling clubs are usually easy to find where ever you live and if indoor exercise is more your thing there you can always take a class. You can even take virtual classes these days which gives you the benefits of exercising with other’s without actually needing to even be in the same room as them. Which is great if you’re still a bit nervous about flaunting your flab.