From the meteoric rise of running groups, clubs and crews, like Black Girls RUN!, Girls on the Run, BlackListLA and Harlem Run, it’s obvious that we humans are social creatures. Results from a recent study published in the November issue of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association also show that working out in groups not only enhances fitness, it reduces perceived stress and increases physical, mental and emotional quality of life. That’s a lot of benefits from a workout!
The study, conducted at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, looked at the power of group fitness classes to reduce stress and improve quality of life for medical school students. A total of 69 students completed the 12-week study. The students were divided into three groups: one group did no exercise save for walking or biking for transportation; one group worked out on their own or with up to two partners twice a week; and the third group participated in a 30-minute group functional fitness program at least once a week, and then did any other exercise they wanted.
Read More: The Rise of Run Crews
Researchers looked at the students’ perceived stress levels (determined by a 10-question test) and quality of life (QOL), including mental, physical and emotional, at the beginning of the study to establish a baseline. Students were tested every four weeks during the study. All students started the study at relatively the same level for all the measured metrics.
By the end of the study, the group-exercise students experienced a drop in perceived stress levels as well as improvements in all three types of QOL. Solo exercisers experienced a boost to their mental QOL, while the non-exercisers didn’t experience any notable changes.
How does this translate to you? While the study was small, it’s safe to say, not only should you work out (be it at the gym or on a run) you should do so in a group or with friends.
In case you still need additional reasons to workout with others, a 2013 study in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology also showed that working out in sync with a group (like on a run, a November Project workout or in a class) can even help to boost performance and pain tolerance.