Keeping fit while being social: How to be active when friends visit for a weekend

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Isn’t it odd that most of our social engagements with friends and family are largely sedentary and consist of plentiful food and drink? As our recent move to Toronto brought us closer to a large section of our social circle, our summer has been a very social one. Being able to see everyone has been wonderful – especially after our 2 nomadic years. However, the go-to formula for a night out with friends of dinner and drinks can be problematic for both the wallet and the waistline.

But, as I was recently reminded, there are ways to be both social and keep your health priorities in check.

Just last weekend, Travis and Daun came over for a visit. The first evening in town we went out for the standard dinner (great Indian roti, in case you were wondering) and drinks while we caught up and watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I was beginning to fear that despite keeping company with active friends, the weekend would be full of caloric intake with little output. To my surprise, as we were walking home, Daun asked: “So what are we doing for an activity tomorrow?” It turns out, being the troopers there are, Travis and Daun never leave home without a set of workout clothes and running shoes.  I couldn’t have been happier. Since we were the hosts, I offered to come up with an activity.

The next morning after a light breakfast (yogurt, granola and fruit, in case you were wondering) the four of us headed over to a nearby park and did a new version of one of my favourite workouts, which I have previously described on Obesity Panacea: the Tabata workout. While Marina and I try and do our workouts outside as often as possible when the weather is good, sharing that experience with another couple was a blast! It was a pretty tough workout, which was made more difficult by the heat and humidity, not to mention the extra motivation of having friends exercising next to you.

Take home message?

Next time you have friends coming over for a weekend of lounging, eating, and drinking, be sure to recommend they at least pack a comfortable pair of shoes. While not everyone will be into exercising in the park, a nice long walk or bike through an interesting part of town, a leisurely game of Frisbee, maybe some badminton, or kayaking if there is water nearby, could add a good amount of activity into your social life. Best of all, by leading by example, you may help your friends start leading more active lives themselves.

Peter

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