Exercise in Groups Get More Health Benefits
All kinds of exercise are beneficial, but group exercise could provide some motivation.
Do you love hitting the gym, the roads, or the trail with friends?
Do you enjoy a packed exercise class in which everyone is moving, breathing, and toning together?
Whatever type of exercise you enjoy, there’s no harm in getting active physically — particularly with the number of Americans failing to meet the standards of Trusted Source of the national guidelines for exercise.
Research indicates that if you’re lonesome regarding exercising and fitness, you could be not reaping the benefits of group exercise.
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Solo or group workouts
Exercise is known for its numerous positive effects on mental health, which include improving mood and sleep as well as boosting sexual drive and improving energy levels and mental alertness.
In a recent study, the researchers examined whether group exercises could benefit medical school students. They are a stressful group that may benefit from regular training.
To conduct the study participants, 69 medical students were part of the exercise groups.
One group completed 30 minutes of group core strength and functional fitness workout program at least once per week, and they could also do additional training if needed.
The other group of exercisers was those who were solely exercising and who exercised in their own time or with two people at least twice each week.
In the final class, students did not engage in anything other than biking or walking to get to where they had to go.
The researchers measured the student’s stress levels and the quality of their lives — physical, mental, and emotional at the beginning of the study and then every four weeks after that.
The students all began studying at the same level in these mental health measures.
After 12 weeks of training, group exercisers showed improvement in all three categories of quality of living and decreased stress levels.
As a result, individuals who exercised did not improve their mental health, even though they exercised one hour more per week than those who exercised in a group.
In the control group, neither the stress level nor the quality of life improved by the study’s end.
The study has limitations in its small size and includes only medical students.
Students were also permitted to pick their exercise group; therefore, personality or physical differences between exercisers in groups and solos may affect the outcome.
The results must be considered with care. However, the study suggests the potential of exercising together.
This investigation appeared in the issue of November of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Workout in sync
Other studies have examined the impact of group exercise, particularly exercising in sync to strengthen social bonds, pain tolerance, and athletic performance.
In the year 2013. a study published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Researchers recruited individuals to train for 45 mins on rowers.
Following the session, rowers who rowed in groups and coordinated their movements had greater pain tolerance than individuals rowing alone. It was evident that pain tolerance was higher whether rowers were rowing with their teammates or with people who were not.
Researchers believe that the greater tolerance to pain could stem from the increased release of endorphins — also known as the “feel good” hormones -caused by people becoming on the same page when exercising.
This type of coordinated movement is referred to as behavioral synchrony. It could also occur in other group activities, for example, games, religious ceremonies, and dancing.
It can also improve your performance, particularly when you’re already close with others in the group.
In the 2015 study published in PLoS ONE, Researchers found that players who coordinated their movements when warming up scored better on the subsequent endurance test.
They are already part of the tightly-knit rugby team. Researchers believe synchronized movement during warm-ups bolstered the social bonds between the players.
The study authors note in their paper that it “may have changed athlete’s perception of the pain and discomfort associated with fatigue … This allowed participants to push harder and perform better.”
If you’re in a group of other cyclists spinning to a steady beat or performing CXWORX like an orchestrated dance, harnessing the potential of synchrony is possible.
Not all group classes are made equal.
Paul Estabrooks, Ph.D., Professor of Behavioral Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, discovered it was the case that “exercise context” shapes how the impact exercise can have on the quality of life, physical and social interactions, and the people who stick to their exercise routines.
In 2006. review in the Sport and Exercise Psychology Review, Estabrooks and his colleagues examined 44 studies that evaluated the advantages of different exercise settings.
The settings included exercises at home, either in a group or with medical professionals or a fitness instructor, or “true group” classes, in which unique methods were employed to strengthen the bonds between group members.
Actual group classes offer the most significant advantages.
The standard fitness classes — with or without the bonding aspect — were like at-home exercises with the help of.
The idea of working out at home on your own was last on the list.
The more social interaction or support individuals receive during exercise with healthcare professionals and other exercisers, the more rewards they receive.
Estabrooks explained to Healthline that “group-based fitness classes are typically only more effective when they use group dynamics strategies.”
This could include setting goals for the group and sharing feedback, talking to other students within the class, engaging in friendly competition, and adding “activities to help people feel like they are part of something — a sense of distinctiveness.”
You won’t find this in every fitness class.
“This usually isn’t the case in most group-based fitness classes,” Estabrooks said. Estabrooks, “where folks show up, follow an instructor, don’t talk much to one another, and then leave.”
While group fitness classes can provide additional benefits, not everyone can be an athlete, body shaper, or power yoga class type of person.
A study revealed that extroverts are likelier to enjoy high-intensity and group-based physical activities than introverts.
It’s not a big surprise.
I’m an introvert who teaches Yoga classes for groups. However, I don’t usually attend group classes by myself.
I would instead practice in my home, on my own. Yoga is about solitude and moving into the inner space — speaking like an introvert.
For other people, yoga may be more about social bonds.
Staying active is healthier than sitting around all day.
Find a physical activity you’re passionate about and commit to, whether cramming your body into an intense workout class or hiking alone in the wild.