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How to Encourage Someone Toward Physical Fitness

Personal cheerleaders can also be exercise partners

Adapted from NIH/National Institute on Aging | November 12, 2012

At times, almost everyone can use a personal cheerleader for encouragement, inspiration, and even celebration when they successfully meet their goals.

Cheering on a friend or family member who wants to be more physically active can be a great way to show your support — and it’s easy to do.

Here are a few tips.

Be open and listen.

  • For some people, becoming physically active is a big change. Applaud that first step and continue to reinforce the decision to be active.
  • Listen to the challenges, brainstorm solutions, offer a pat on the back, and celebrate progress.
Help it happen.
  • Go along to buy new shoes or workout clothes or to try an exercise class.
  • Volunteer to take over a household errand to make time for your friend to go to her weekly basketball game.
Join in the fun.
  • Walking together is a wonderful way to be active and catch up with a friend.
  • Try activities that are just right for two — dance lessons or doubles tennis.
  • Challenge your friend to a weekly ping-pong game. Be supportive if interruptions occur.
  • Travel, illness, and work can get in the way of physical activity. Work together to find ways to get back on track as soon as possible.
A Few Don’ts
  • Don’t push too hard. People need to start out at a pace that’s right for them and build up from there.
  • Don’t be judgmental. Negative comments about appearance or performance can quickly halt efforts to be active.
Quick Tip

Try making a contract with a friend to become physically active. It can help you both stick to an exercise program.

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