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July 30, 2017

How to Encourage a Friend or Coworker to Become More Active

Written by Jennifer Van Allen
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runningbuddiesWithout a doubt, one of the best parts of regular exercise is discovering that your body and your mind are stronger, fitter, and more capable than you ever imagined.

Naturally, we want to share those mental and physical benefits with our coworkers, friends, and loved ones.

But if you’ve ever tried it you know—helping someone else move more can be tricky, especially if they’re not already exercising on a regular basis.

Here are 4 tips on how to make help a coworker, friend or loved one start exercising on a regular basis.  

It’s easy to Invite a Coworker to join the Movecoach Challenge. Click here to learn how.

Start with small successes. If you’re well into your fitness journey, it can be easy to forget how frustrating, intimidating, and physically difficult it can be to start an exercise regime.  Try to remember how you felt on those first classes, walks, runs, and trips to the gym. From the gear to the special lingo to the feeling of pushing your muscles and joints in ways they haven’t moved in awhile, there are a lot of emotional and mental barriers to getting started. To increase the chances that your colleague will stick with it, set them up for success. Start with small goals—say a 10-minute walk, or by tracking movement with a step counter—and suggest that they increase their activity goals in baby-step increments. As the person accomplishes these goals, he or she will gain confidence and comfort with the exercise, and soon be eager to start pushing themselves farther and faster.

Start where they are. You didn’t get to where you are now overnight—no one else will either. While you may see that your colleague or friend has the potential to run for 30 minutes, finish a marathon or bike commute to work, understand when saying so that may feel intimidating to to that person. You also don’t want the other person to feel like if he or she starts exercising, that person has to run a marathon, or walk for an hour. Even small levels of effort and periods of exercise have big health benefits. Start with small goals. Once the other person has the experience of exceeding his or her own expectations, he or she will be eager to start raising the bar.

Keep ‘em company. One of the scariest parts of any new experience is going it alone, and not knowing what to do. Offer to keep your friend or colleague company on those first trips to the gym, lunch-break walks, or after-work runs. Let the other person set the pace. Take your workout with your own goals at another time.

Be careful about unsolicited coaching. So many pieces of game-changing advice can make or break your exercise routine—it can be tempting to pour all your good advice on the other person.  But you want to avoid overwhelming the other person with too much information all at once. You also don’t want the person to feel like he or she is “doing it wrong,” or being corrected. Obviously, you want to help the other person steer clear of injury risk—say, by running on the wrong side of the road, or attempting to exercise in old, worn-out, inappropriate shoes. But beyond that, let the other person’s questions lead the way. And when you do share advice, be sure to do it in the context of how you experienced similar struggles and got over them.

Any questions? Write to us at coach@movecoach.com.

Last modified on July 30, 2017
Jennifer Van Allen

Jennifer Van Allen

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