two friends enjoying a jog together

1. Set Goals Together

3 friends make a pact to exercise together

Goals are a great motivator. If you and your friend share interests for the same type of exercises, consider setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). This could be training a marathon, hiking on a nature trail every weekend or even taking up a martial art.

Ms Kareen Lai, fitness instructor and founder of Mums In Sync, a fitness company, says it is important to identify your goals. “Set monthly milestones that you want to reach. e.g. by the first month, you want to be able to work out once a week but by the second month, you aim to increase working out to twice a week.”

Related: 10,000 Steps A Day The Easy Way

2. Be Persistent and Consistent

two friends smiling as they enjoy a run outdoors

If you have a friend who gives up after a single gym session, it may be up to you to persuade them to break out of their comfort zone. Try to see things from their perspective and break them in gently. If your friend prefers not breaking into a sweat but doesn’t mind walking through air-conditioned malls and window shopping, start by doing that with her — then sneak in a bit of mall workouts after that. The most important step is getting them to adopt a regular exercise schedule.

Dr Benedict Tan, head of Changi Sports Medicine Centre, who is an active runner, kite surfer, diver and skier, shares that his wife never used to exercise until his influence rubbed off onto her. “As the result of our time spent together, she began to join me during my runs. Today, she runs daily and sometimes 8km to work, and participates in full marathons.”

Related: Walk the Malls to Better Health

3. Make It Fun

​​two friends take up a yoga class together

If the thought of working out still feels like drudgery to your friend, find ways that don’t feel or look like exercise, to exercise! Consider mixing up the usual gym routine with other activities like enrolling for dance class or renting bikes for the day.

Dancing is a great way to pick up a new skill and get your heart racing at the same time. Latin or swing, check out these free aerobic dance classes in various locations all over the island, from selected gyms to malls. Prefer natural scenery to the dance studio? Aim to go for treks and strolls in various parks, beaches and nature reserves, or join free exercise classes available at selected parks on Sunday.

Related: Game Your Way to 10,000 Steps A Day

4. Have Incentives

two girlfriends enjoy shopping after meeting exercise goals

Everybody loves getting rewarded for something they’ve put effort into, and rewards incentivise efforts. Think of some small ways you can celebrate together for hitting your exercise goals. Whether your goal is weight loss, or to hit the gym twice a week for a month, remember to give yourself and your friend a prize for hitting the mark.

This could be anything from a pedicure to shopping vouchers at their favourite shop. Small and consistent rewards will help keep the motivation up and also gives you a chance to show appreciation for each other! Consider joining a programme like the National Steps Challenge™ that has ready-made tier goals and existing rewards for achieving said tiers.

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