Research shows the numerous benefits of exercise for both our physical and mental health. But did you know that exercising with a group has its own special set of benefits? If you’re in a workout rut, or you just don’t feel like you’re getting enough out of your efforts, working in some group activities could be key to breaking through that wall. Whether it’s scheduling a gym session with your friends or joining a spin class, here are 5 ways group workouts can change the game for you:
1. Group Workouts Hold You Accountable
It’s all too easy to talk yourself out of a workout. But when your friends are joining you already in their gym wear, it’s a little tougher to back out. One of the key benefits of exercising with a group is that it holds you accountable. Group exercises are bonded by mutual effort and interest, which encourages participation and keeps people on track with their goals. One study found that 95% of the participants who started a weight-loss program with friends completed the program, compared to only 76% who completed the program alone.
The group participants were also 46% more likely to maintain their weight loss once they had achieved their goals. So if you’re looking for lasting effects, time to set some squad goals!
2. Group Exercise Can Inspire and Motivate You
If you’ve exercised in a group, you’ve surely experienced the eagerness to rise to the occasion alongside your peers—or best them in friendly competition. There’s nothing more motivating than being surrounded by like-minded people who are striving toward their goals with energy and enthusiasm. This healthy competition and peer pressure can go a long way toward your own fitness goals, including building your endurance, boosting your heart health, and skyrocketing your confidence. One 2011 study had participants perform a series of planks, both alone and with a high-performing partner. They found that working with a next-level partner increased the participants’ plank time by 24% compared to those going it alone.
Plus, group workouts inspire you to try new things. Your friends may encourage you to try out that new machine, or a group class instructor may show you different ways to work the same muscle. Changing up your routine is essential for both effectiveness and enjoyment; being in a group can inspire you to keep that variety popping.
3. Group Exercise Can Help You Prevent Injuries
It’s easy to make mistakes as a beginner going at it alone. But a qualified instructor can guide your form and serve as a great support to help you make the most of your workout while avoiding risks of injury. Also, group classes often begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down, which relieves tension in the muscles and prevents injury. A qualified instructor can also give guidance on alternatives to certain moves, in case you have any pre-existing injuries or conditions that make a movement harmful for you.
4. Group Exercise Enhances Your Social Life
Exercising with a group means going through all the ups and downs of a workout together, which can strengthen social bond of the social group you work out with and even foster new friendships. Exercising with your friends can also be a great way to enhance your current relationships and make it a fun and healthy way to spend time together. A study by researchers at the University of Southern California reported that people who worked out with their spouses, friends or even co-workers enjoyed their workouts more than those who went solo. Some families even make exercise one of their family activities, whether that’s going for walks together or playing a sport, which can be a fun and healthy way to spend time together and create fond memories.
5. Group Exercise is Just Fun
Whether it’s a high-energy spin or Zumba class, a fast-moving team sport, or just dancing with your friends at a concert, nothing feeds individual energy like the energy of a group. Part of that effect is the production of endorphins, the hormones released by the brain that naturally make you feel good—even euphoric—and reduce pain. A 2009 study by Oxford University scientists compared the same athletes rowing solo for 45 minutes and rowing in a team for the same amount of time. The team session reported higher endorphin levels in the athletes.
All in all, whether you need that extra motivation for your fitness goals or you just want to make new friends, group exercise creates community, and endless opportunities towards a more fit and happy life.