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

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.


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

  1. another excellent way to get some exercise is to go bird-watching (or outdoor photography), preferably by bicycling to the location where you plan to go birding/photographing!

    • Excellent idea! My partner, Marina, loves snapping photos. Often we’ll just go on random explorations, usually on foot, to see new areas and take some pics. Great way to get some activity while being preoccupied with seeing interesting things and enjoying a hobby.

  2. julie says:

    I don’t mind leaving friends alone to go to the gym, but when suburbanites visit, it’s often hard to get them to understand that we’re not going to be driving everywhere (or anywhere, really). Yes, we’re walking that mile or two, or getting on the bus, and if you don’t like it, bring a bicycle.

  3. When I visit friends in different cities we try to experience some form of fitness that I can’t get at home in Windsor, like Bikram yoga, or something that my friends like to do that I don’t normally do myself, like cycling or raquet sports. It can be really fun!

  4. Moo says:

    Its amazing to think of the cultural “norms” we create and perpetuate like drinking with friends despite the fact that we can be cool, joyful, creative ,spontaneous, enjoying friends..uh ….without alcohol or eating lots of addictive foods in an ambiance that encourages and de stigmatizes pigging out on stuff most likely to trigger cravings for more. Is that the limit to our creativity and to having fun? Sad.
    Specifically ,consider “drinks” and dinner out are not nor have ever been the do all end all to socialize…its uniquely designed to lessen ones resolve, and can seriously derail personal health goals ….everyone has that choice to make and certainly its not” the root of all evil” for everyone yet why does it get an obligate pairing with happy socializing? ..Those pesky little facts like alcohol vs weight gain/weight loss stalls …..should be enough without any other discussion to rethink its automatic inclusion in our social lives.