By Colton Buege
Barre, HIIT, hot yoga or a trusty old body pump session – these days we're spoiled when it comes to the variety of group exercise classes one can offer. If you aren’t quite sure what to do in the weight room, you feel confused when it comes to formulating your own killer routine, or you just don't have the fitness motivationto go it alone, signing up for a class is the perfect way to sweat it out.
Now science says there are more benefits to group exercise classes than allowing yourself take the reins - training with a group of other people has been proved to improve your quality of life.
According to research from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in the US, group exercise can potentially offer more health benefits than slogging it out alone.
BUT WHY CHOOSE GROUP EXERCISE?
Lead researcher Dr. Dayna Yorks explains: “The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone.”
The study saw 69 participants undertaking a 12-week exercise program. The individuals were medical students, chosen for the fact that they work in a very high-pressure and stressful environment, and were given the choice of group exercise classes, or an individual workout plan to complete over three months.
Interestingly, the research found that those involved in group exercise reduced their stress levels by a staggering 26%, and also reported that they felt their quality of life had improved. However, the solo gym goers said they felt no real difference in either, despite appearing to have put a lot more effort into their plans.
In order to fairly assess which group was reaping the benefits, the researchers gave the participants surveys where they would detail their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, rating how, if at all, they felt their stress levels and quality of life had changed.
SO WHAT DID THE GROUP EXERCISE PLAN INVOLVE?
Class goers were asked to attend a CXWORX class for half an hour at least once each week over the course of the 12 weeks. The intense class focuses on core strength and functional fitness, and by the end of the study these individuals reported an indisputable improvement in their overall wellbeing. As a team, their mental health reportedly improved by 12.6%, they felt their physical health improved by 24.8%, and their stress levels decrease by 26.2%.
On the other hand, the lone lungers were told that they could decide on the type of training they wanted to do, as long as they did it on their own or with a maximum of two other people. The results showed that these individuals ended up working out for twice as long as their class-going counterparts, but there was no real change in their stress levels. The most significant improvement was that the individuals perceived that their mental health had improved, to an overall tune of 11%.
Dr. Yorks continued: “The findings support the concept of a mental, physical, and emotional approach to health that is necessary for student doctors and physicians.”
Sounds like it could be worth swapping solo squatting for a spin session. Consider tonight’s workout sorted.