Healthy relationships are very important. Studies suggest that social interaction plays a significant role in the amount of exercise we get. If we can combine physical activities with friends and fun, we are much more likely both to exercise more and to enjoy it more.

This is assuming, of course, that you don't substitute exercise for conversation. Whether we take up tennis and play with friends, get a family membership at the YMCA, or join the nearest fitness club, there are many ways to combine at least one workout a week with social interaction. The added enjoyment and accountability we derive from such a situation can be invaluable.

For several years now, I have adapted my workout schedule to fit my lifestyle. When I first got married, I worked part time, belonged to a gym, played some occasional tennis, and played on a softball team.

I found that the social interaction made the exercise more enjoyable. After I had my first child, well, you know, my priorities changed. I worked out at home with workout videos while my daughter slept. Sometimes in the evenings I would jog.

After a year or so, I joined the YMCA to take some aerobic classes just to get out of the house. I enjoyed jogging by myself to have some quiet time to think, but I missed some of the social interaction.

I didn't experience a sense of accountability at the Y, because I never really took the time to get to know anyone very well. I was always rushing home to get back to my daughter.

My schedule became more flexible when my daughter started school. A small workout facility opened where my husband and I worked. It was very close to where we live, and it was free. My sister-in-law, a friend of hers, and I started working out together in the mornings.

Of all the schedules that I have ever had, this one seemed to work the best. I realized that working out in the mornings kept me from "blowing it off" later in the day. After several months, my sister-in-law changed her schedule, but my friend and I are still workout buddies.

Though I sometimes disappear for a few months (during a challenging pregnancy or nurturing an infant), I always return, knowing that my faithful partner will be there. I daresay that I have grown greatly over the years in the area of discipline.

Nevertheless, there have been countless busy days when the only thing getting my gluteus maximus to the gym was knowing someone there was expecting me. The point is while exercise is a personal commitment of hard work, creating an environment of accountability can make it easier, and social interaction can make it more enjoyable.

We even amazed ourselves one summer when we decided that if we worked out really early in the morning, our husbands could stay home with the kids, and we would be back before breakfast.

I will never forget the feeling of finishing a hard workout, grabbing my water bottle, and walking outside to see the sun rising. I would be home before the kids got up. I felt invincible. I felt like that Army commercial, "We do more by 6:00 A.M. than most people do all day. Be all that you can be, in the AAAAArmy. . . ."

Okay, Okay, I digress. My workout partner and I have proven over time that we are committed to our goals no matter what. Together or alone, we are committed to exercise!

Don't be discouraged if your lifestyle or pocketbook dictates that you go it alone. I have spent countless hours "going it alone" myself. You can rest assured that there are thousands out there who are doing it, too.

Many people prefer it that way, and there is a very strong sense of accomplishment from achieving your fitness goals by yourself. If you want more social interaction and your lifestyle allows it, go for it.

Be it a workout partner, personal trainer, or aerobics class, there are great benefits to be gained from accountability and social interaction. The most important thing is to be flexible to what you can do right now.

Source: Marty's Top Ten Diet & Fitness Strategies by Marty Copeland.
Excerpt permission granted by Bronze Bow Publishing, Inc.