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It’s widely known that exercising is beneficial for your health. Studies after studies show that physical activity is the most important factor to health and well-being. If exercise isn’t a an integral part of your daily routine, it’s difficult to keep it up. In reality less than one-quarter of American adults exercise the recommended amount of physical activity every week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There’s an increasing body of evidence that highlights the factors that keep you active for the long haul.

In a study that was published this spring, researchers followed beginners who had new gym memberships for a period of up to 12 months before asking participants to complete questionnaires about their experiences. The study revealed three aspects which prompted people to stay to a routine of exercise by choosing an activity that was enjoyable, something that the person was looking at looking forward to as well as a feeling of self-confidence (i.e. the participants believed that they could achieve their goals) as well as support from family and friends.

Social support is a frequent topic in the literature on maintaining an exercise program. A study published in the year 2000 within the Journal of Physiology requested that the subjects participate in hand-grip tests both with as well as with no social assistance. Social support helped people perform better in the hand-grip test and also rated the difficulty as less difficult, even at the more difficult parts in the examination.

What is social support in relation to when it comes to exercising? A systematic review, released by Canadian researchers in the International Journal of Sports and Exercise Psychology, clarifies exactly what types of social support help people keep their exercise regimens going. They discovered an emotional connection is a crucial element in establishing and maintaining fitness programs. Support from your emotions could be someone who you can complain to when you’re not feeling like going for a run or someone who can motivate you when it gets difficult.

Support in the form of an exercise ride or the gift of fitness equipment–didn’t help people begin an exercise program However, it was a great help in helping to maintain their fitness levels.

If you’ve ever embarked on an exercise routine in the past, you’ve likely had someone tell you about “doing too excessively” or that you could hurt yourself. The study classified these kinds of remarks as negative social support , and concluded that they may indeed cause people to be less active. If you’re surrounded by negative voices within your circle, you should try to avoid them regarding exercising.

Researchers have found mixed results regarding the sources of social support. Some studies revealed that an emotional support from a loved one or friends significantly increased the participants’ likelihood of sticking with their exercise program, whereas other studies observed that the kind of support made none of a difference.

Some studies showed that the encouragement of relatives and friends led to people less likely to be active in the near future. Although this may seem surprising however, there is evidence of the fact that when individuals are pushed to exercise by their significant others or friends or family members, they tend to avoid exercise. The reason could be in the perception that when people believe they are being forced to take a certain action is more likely to resist the idea; if they believe that someone else is supportive of their idea, that encouragement is more likely to result in positive effects.

The message to take away is that there are many important factors that can aid you in sticking to the routine of exercising. Pick an activity you love; develop the belief that you will reach your goals as well as find a help system that supports and supports you, but does not force or pressure you into exercising.