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The Surprising Effect Your Friends Have On Your Exercise Habits

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It's no secret that your friends are influential; you'll be more likely to take that rec for a new ClassPass workout if it comes from your bestie than from a rando who doesn't get your ~vibe~ as well. (And hey, Having a Fitness Buddy Is the Best Thing Ever.) But there's actually serious science behind how who you hang out with influences your habits—although it's not as straightforward as it sounds.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University surveyed students in the U.S., Israel, and Europe about their relationships with friends, and they found some bad news for your squad. In their findings, published in the journal PLOS One, the researchers concluded that not all your BFFs feel the same way about you. In fact, only about half of your friendships are reciprocal.

What's worse it that we often aren't even aware of it. In addition to being asked to rate how close of a friend each person in the study was on a scale of zero to five (zero being total stranger and five being bestie status), the participants were also asked to rate how likely it was that each person was likely to rate them back as a friend. In 94 percent of the cases, participants expected someone they'd indicated as a friend to indicate them back. But in reality, only 50 percent did. Rough. (See what one woman learned from a month of workout dates.)

But this isn't just about how strong our squad game is. Whether or not your "friends" actually consider you a friend seriously impacts their influence on you. To test this, the researchers did a second experiment to see how the exercise habits of real reciprocal friends compared to the exercise influences of one-way friendships. They gave participants rewards based on either their own exercise performance or the performance of two "friends." And they found that if your barre buddy doesn't really consider you a friend, then she's probably not incentivizing your workout game—which defeats the whole purpose, right?!

Mom was right: You should choose your friends wisely—your gym game depends on it. (Psst... Check out these 17 Instagram Photos of Incredible Partner Exercises.)

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