The Social Secret to Maintaining Your Fitness Habit – Bike Magazine Australia

How do you ensure that your New Year’s Resolution to ride regularly sticks? According to Strava, being more social is key to becoming a consistent athlete.

The exercise-tracking app used by cyclists worldwide recently analysed data generated by users who joined the app in January 2016. Strava found that those users who became active on Strava—giving kudos (‘liking’ other users’ posts), riding with others, or joining virtual Strava clubs—within the first weeks after downloading it were more than twice as likely (aka, 100-percent-plus as likely) to remain active users six months later, relative to average Strava users.

Users who only uploaded workouts in those first few weeks were 73 percent as likely to stay engaged on Strava for the year. Users who followed other users’ activity were 81 percent as likely to stay engaged.

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the fact that some Strava users simply realize that uploading data to the app isn’t for them; they don’t stop riding, but simply stop recording their progress consistently.

Do athletes need to be interactive about exercise in order to stick with a habit? Not necessarily, says sports psychologist Dr. Kristin Keim.

“Actually, it depends on the person and their level of motivation,” Keim says. “If someone is internally motivated and driven, they might find it easier to train on their own or keep up their fitness objectives without external motivators like group rides, training partners, or online communities.”

But there is some science to back up the idea that holding yourself accountable to a group, or online followers, is a good way to stick to your fitness goals. A 2009 study in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders showed that obese individuals are more inclined to stick to fitness plans and lose weight when placed in group treatment and exercise programs, relative to those in solo training situations.

“Riding with others gives you an opportunity to be accountable to yourself and your partners, by showing up and having others around to challenge you physically and mentally,” Keim says. “Research has found that athletic performance improves when athletes can participate in groups or ride with training partners to practice intervals and race skills.

“Athletes can only push themselves so far.”

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