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The benefits of having a workout partner

When it comes to exercise, you don't have to go it alone. In fact, studies show you'll improve your overall results by working out with a partner. It's why Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey team up for athletic challenges, and why Madonna and Gwyneth are forever together at the gym. Even Barack and Michelle are known for sweating it out together.

While many of us are able to maintain our good exercise intentions without help, most of us could benefit greatly from having a workout partner. Most importantly, it makes you accountable to show up and exercise, which can be half the battle. If the two of you schedule a workout, you're less likely to skip the gym or find excuses.

Working out with a partner increases your motivation. Having someone to challenge you to work harder, faster and longer will help you reach your goals quicker. Rather than bonding over a calorie-laden dinner, hit the gym together. Catch up while getting healthy.

Finding a partner with similar goals is preferred. Having a common direction will help you stay focused. Encouragement, support, shared accomplishments and pushing each other not only makes the time go faster, it's more fun. Workout partners help keep things challenging. You can show each other new moves or try an activity you never thought you would.

Finding a partner at the gym is easier than it may seem. Your new partner could be the person next to you in that spin class. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation because the truth is you are both there for the same reason. The gym staff is also a great resource for pairing you with a member who matches your level and has similar goals.

There are times when you will need to go it alone at the gym, but just remember, your odds of reaching your goals improve when you have someone to sweat through it with you.