Get Fit with a Virtual Workout Buddy

Finding it hard to stick to your New Year's resolutions? One of the best ways to get (and stay) fit is to rely on a friend to keep you motivated about getting up and getting active. If you're new in town or don't have any fitness-minded friends, get online with a fitness game and find a digital workout buddy.

With game titles like Kinect Sports and WiiFit gaining ground, it's easier than ever to work out at home. Another advantage of getting active with a video game? You can get online and get fit with nearly anyone in the world.

Studies show that having a friend workout with you, especially an online friend, will improve your own fitness performance. In a study from Michigan State University's kinesiology department, researchers used the Eye Toy camera and PlayStation 2 to gauge how hard participants pushed themselves during exercise, both alone and then with a virtual workout partner. Participants were first asked to hold a plank position alone, then with a buddy. Researchers found that when individuals performed the exercises with a virtual workout partner, they held the plank position for 24 percent longer than when the virtual partner wasn't present. Having somebody there to push you can make the difference between a good workout and a great one.

If you want to work out with an out-of-town friend or your sister who moved overseas, you can take advantge of the benefits of a workout partner using fitness video games. Titles like Kinect Sports on XBOX 360 and Wii Sports on Nintendo Wii allow for online mulitplayer gaming. As long as you and your friend both have internet-connected consoles, you can race each other in a hurdles event or challenge each other to a volleyball game.

Which brings us to possibly the biggest advantage of working out online with a friend: It doesn't feel like working out, it's just plain fun. You'll be fit and fab in no time.

Image: Microsoft

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