Should I Workout Alone Or With A Group? Science Tells You What To Do

We all learned a long time ago that regular exercise has amazing benefits for our health and quality of life. Aside from preventing chronic diseases and physical ailments, exercise is great for our mental well-being, too. Basically, not exercising is akin to not caring about your future self (ain’t nobody got time for that). You know you’ve got to do it, but you may be wondering if it’s better to go at it alone or to exercise in a group. Luckily, science can help us out with that answer.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that there are some pretty nifty extra benefits when you choose to workout in a group. Here’s how it went down: 69 medical students (aka, super stressed people) were chosen to participate in a 12-week study where they worked out alone, went to group exercise classes, or didn’t exercise at all. Every four weeks, the 69 students completed a survey that asked them to analyze their physical, emotional, and mental stress levels.

The results? Those students in the group exercise set showed significant improvement in all three quality of life measures! Their physical state improved by 24.8%, mental by 12.6%, and emotional by 26%. And to make it even better, they reported a 26.2% reduction in stress levels. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ll take any level of stress reduction any day.

By contrast, the group that worked out on their own tended to work out for twice as long, yet reported no changes in stress levels or their physical or emotional states. Hmmm, that’s definitely food for thought.

To take this one step further, another study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that exercising with a highly-fit companion made participants workout harder than if they exercised with a less-fit companion.

While you can absolutely pat yourself on the back no matter how you choose to get your workout in, you may want to consider checking out a group fitness class to reap some bonus rewards. Anyone else suddenly have an urge to go to a Zumba® class?

Susan Perez

Susan Perez is the Managing Editor of the ZLife blog and you can usually find her getting her sass on to Beyonce's 'Formation' in Zumba class; other loves include eating popcorn while watching 'The Voice', singing [really badly] at the top of her lungs while driving, and wearing red lipstick.

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