Do not exercise alone. Here’s why you should hit the gym with friends
A new study has found that group workouts are more effective in improving physical and mental health than exercising alone.Updated: Oct 31, 2017 09:41 IST
You may want to start hitting the gym with friends as according to a recent study, group workouts make people feel physically and mentally better than working out alone.
A team of researchers found that working out in a group lowered stress by 26% and significantly improved quality of life, while those who exercised individually put in more effort but experienced no significant changes in their stress level and a limited improvement to quality of life.
Lead researcher Dayna Yorks said that the communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone. “The findings support the concept of a mental, physical and emotional approach to health that is necessary for student doctors and physicians.”
The team at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine recruited 69 medical students, a group known for high levels of stress and self-reported low quality of life, and allowed them to self-select into a twelve-week exercise programme, either within a group setting or as individuals. A control group abstained from exercise other than walking or biking as a means of transportation.
Every four weeks, participants completed a survey asking them to rate their levels of perceived stress and quality of life in three categories: mental, physical and emotional.
Those participating in group exercise spent 30 minutes at least once a week in CXWORX, a core strengthening and functional fitness training programme. At the end of the twelve weeks, their mean monthly survey scores showed significant improvements in all three quality of life measures: mental (12.6%), physical (24.8%) and emotional (26%). They also reported a 26.2% reduction in perceived stress levels.
By comparison, individual fitness participants were allowed to maintain any exercise regimen they preferred, which could include activities like running and weight lifting, but they had to work out alone or with no more than two partners. On an average, the solitary exercisers worked out twice as long, and saw no significant changes in any measure, except in mental quality of life (11% increase). Similarly, the control group saw no significant changes in quality of life or perceived stress.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.