Sometimes it can be tough to get off the couch for a workout, especially when you're alone. It's much easier and way more enjoyable when you have someone waiting to exercise with you. Maybe it's a digital group fitness class or a virtual personal training session. Or maybe you're just heading out for a run with your family member.

Research and fitness experts tell us that connecting with others through exercise helps with our motivation and has an overall positive effect on our mental health.

What’s not always clear, though, is what good mental health means – and it’s something we really need since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. 

The Canadian Mental Health Association describes mental health as “a state of well-being” and lists these six common factors of well-being:

  • A sense of purpose
  • Strong relationships
  • Feeling connected to others
  • Having a good sense of self
  • Coping with stress
  • Enjoying life

We know exercise can improve our mental health, starting with the release of feel-good endorphins and chemicals that help decrease anxiety and depression, and improve our sleep.

If we go one step further and add in exercising with others – even virtually – we can see how it applies to the aforementioned CMHA factors.

Kelly Musovic, Director of Personal Training and Personal Trainer with GoodLife Fitness, says exercising with others provides three key benefits: accountability, adaptability, and a sense of belonging to a community.


When you make plans to exercise with a friend, partner or group, it increases your motivation.

“Having someone there to hold you accountable and having a set appointment really does increase the chances that you’re actually going to do the work, and potentially work harder than you would have done on your own,” Musovic says.

The on-again, off-again closure of gyms and other fitness activity centres in some provinces because of pandemic health restrictions has heightened psychological health issues and negatively impacted people’s motivation – something that can slide at the best of times without a proper plan in place, she adds.

Keeping a commitment to exercise with others gives us a sense of purpose and helps us feel connected.


It’s no secret people often get stuck in a rut when it comes to their workout routines. They may do the same program at the gym for months or think their only option to change things up is to go for a run outside.

If you exercise with others, the door opens to new experiences that can be challenging, rewarding and fun.

“When you join a hiking club or sign up for Team Training Camp, for example, you find out about new hiking trails or new exercises you can add to your own workout plan,” Musovic says.

“When you’re on Instagram and maybe doing the Les Mills classes that GoodLife is offering, then you find out about other classes being offered. So maybe you’re going to try yoga or Zumba for the first time because it’s private.”

“There are so many things you can experience and try out, even from your own home.”

Feeling pride in being adaptable and solution-focused when faced with an obstacle is a critical life tool, Musovic adds.

“Once you’ve mastered that in terms of fitness, you can apply that to so many aspects of life, which is also good for your mental health.”

Sense of community

Working out with a friend or family member or taking part in Group Fitness Classes keeps social connections alive.

It also offers a change of pace in our lives and a chance to be around other like-minded people.

“When you’re working or taking care of kids or whatever it is that you do, it breaks up the mundane and gives people something else to do,” Musovic says. “But also gives you someone else to connect with, so it’s a distraction and it builds a sense of community.”