It's the start of week 3 of The Daily Steps Challenge, which means you're halfway there! Week 1 was all about establishing a baseline, while Week 2 focused on finding creative ways to take more steps throughout the day.
This week it's time to get your friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors — everyone! — involved. Just look at our challenge hosts and the group they created. Cortney Logan and Alexandra Weissner started bRUNch Running out of a desire to take something they love (running) and make it social.
"On Monday nights, we used to go for a run and then one of us would cook and we would watch 'The Bachelor' together," Weissner says. "It was our version of happy hour and allowed us to catch up, get our sweat on and enjoy a meal and some bad TV together."
Read more: 7 Reasons Your Gym Buddy Is Totally Awesome
How Friends Can Help You Reach Your Goals
Teaming up to get moving helps keep you accountable. "An accountability buddy makes the challenge more fun and makes it seem possible," Logan says. "Being there for each other has a huge and positive impact on one's success (personal, business, fitness or otherwise)."
And research backs up this idea. An April 2017 study in Nature Communications found that exercising was, essentially, contagious. Participants who had fit and active friends were more likely to be fit and active themselves. Another study from a May 2016 issue of Obesity found that participants with obesity lost more weight if they spent time around their fit friends.
Plus, people who exercised with partners they thought were in better shape lengthened their workouts and increased their intensity by a whopping 200 percent, according to a November 2012 study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
Not only do our fit friends help motivate us to get started, they also help us stay the course. According to an often-cited February 1999 study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 95 percent of participants who started a weight-loss program with friends completed the program, while only 76 percent of those who participated alone finished. Additionally, the group with friends was 42 percent more likely to maintain their weight loss at the end of the study.
Healthy friends keep us accountable, motivate us to keep going, model healthy behaviors, provide friendly competition and make us happier throughout the process. "By including friends and/or family in your walking challenge, you can also catch up on each other's lives, giving you more quality time together," Weissner says.
Calling All Friends (and Family and Co-Workers)
This week, your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to get at least one person to join this challenge — at least for this week. "Plan your walk with an activity to spend more time together afterwards or as a time for you to connect one-on-one," Logan suggests.
Then invite them to join the Facebook Challenge Group so they can connect with our entire community.
Want to take it a step further? Set up your own challenge group IRL. Gather a group of co-workers, friends or family members and establish the guidelines: Every participant should aim to hit 7,500 to 10,000 steps each day, taking screenshots or photos for proof.
How to Join the Daily Steps Challenge
Step 1: Find a Way to Measure Your Daily Steps
There are a lot of fitness trackers out there that you can either wear on your wrist or clip to your clothes. If you don't want to shell out the money for an expensive wearable, most smartphones will track your daily steps (as long as you carry it with you throughout the day, of course).
Step 2: Join Our Challenge Group
Join the LIVESTRONG.com Challenge Facebook Group. We'll be posting lots of helpful info and tips, answering all your questions and connecting you to other members of the community who are joining you for the challenge.
Step 3: Get Walking and Post Your Progress
Put one foot in front of the other and stay active throughout the month. Then keep the Challenge Facebook Group updated with your daily walking by posting screenshots of your step-counting app or photos of your fitness tracker or what you saw on your daily walk. Maybe you walked through the park at lunch or took a hike over the weekend — we want to see it!
- Nature Communications: "Exercise Contagion in a Global Social Network"
- Obesity: "Desire for Weight Loss, Weight‐Related Social Contact, and Body Mass Outcomes"
- Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology: Benefits of Recruiting Participants With Friends and Increasing Social Support for Weight Loss and Maintenance
- Annals of Behavioral Medicine: "Aerobic Exercise Is Promoted when Individual Performance Affects the Group: A Test of the Kohler Motivation Gain Effect"