If you're looking for ways to boost your workout regimen this holiday season, the solution may lie in those people closest to you.

A recent study done at Kansas State University determined that people can be more motivated at the gym if they are working out in a group setting. The researchers based their study on the idea of the Köhler Effect, which states that weaker individuals often perform better when working in a group setting rather than on their own.

For their study, the researchers gathered 58 female college students and told them to ride a stationary bike for as long as they could. The researchers gave the college students a virtual partner via a computer screen, telling the women that this partner rode longer than they did during her pre-trail ride. When the two women rode together, researchers found that the college students lasted an average of 40 percent (nine minutes) longer than when they had ridden alone.

When the college students were told that they and their virtual partner were on a team, and that their score would be based on who stopped first, on average the college students increased their individual time by a staggering 160 percent (11 minutes).

"We were pleasantly surprised by how big the motivation gains were," Brandon Irwin, one of the study's authors, told Wired, "but I think the most interesting thing was that for the partners who were the weak link in the group, the fact that their motivation wasn’t only greater than in the other two groups but it actually increased over time."

Irwin and other researchers are still determining the best way to apply their findings. A common idea is to look into developing some sort of virtual workout partner, which Irwin described as "similar to matchmaking software for romantic relationships online." In other words, as long as people had a smartphone, they could find a partner and hit the gym.

But until that happens, we'll have to settle for other real, live human beings as our partners.

(H/T to Wired)

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