Lower Stress with Half the Exercise: Fitness Groups versus Working Out Solo.
Exercising with a friend might be better for your health than exercising all alone, reducing stress and improving quality of life. New research suggests that group exercise, such as in a fitness class setting, may reduce stress by about a quarter but people who go solo may not see any change at all.
The research study focused specifically on 70 medical students, following those who exercised in half-hour group fitness classes; those who worked out alone or worked out with one or two partners; and those who did not exercise at all. At the end of the 12-week study period, the group that took fitness classes had lower self-reported stress levels and improved physical, mental and emotional quality of life, according to the study, while the people who worked out alone or with partners had just improved mental quality of life. The control group that was going without exercise saw no difference.
“Attending weekly group fitness classes could be a solution to improving the emotional well-being and stress level of medical students,” the authors wrote.
Medical school often produces intense psychological distress for medical students, the study notes. These findings have important implications for both personal well-being as well as empathy, interpersonal relationships, and attitude toward the medical profession.
During the study period “those who exercise individually put in more effort but experienced no significant changes in their stress level and a limited improvement to quality of life”. The individual exercisers typically worked out for double the time of the fitness class attendees.
The difference that these students saw might have something to do with the social nature of people.
“The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone,” as stated by lead researcher Dayna Yorks.