Are you an avid runner?
Do you thrive in a crowd of people working out together?
It doesn’t matter what kind or style of exercise, being physically active has no downside. This is especially true when so many Americans cannot follow the Source recommendations for national exercise guidelines.
You might miss out on the benefits of group exercise if your lifestyle is dominated by exercising alone.
I well know that exercise has many health benefits. Trusted Source. These include improving mood and sleep, increasing sex drive, and increasing mental alertness and energy.
Researchers looked into whether group exercise could be beneficial for medical students. This is a high-stress group that could benefit from regular exercise.
69 medical students formed three exercise groups to conduct the research.
One group performed a 30-minute core strengthening and functional training program together at least once per week. They also did additional exercises as needed.
One group was the solo exercisers who exercised alone or with two people at least twice per week.
Students in the last group didn’t exercise beyond walking or biking to get to their destination.
Researchers measured the students’ stress levels and quality of life at the beginning and afterward.
The students all started their studies at the same level as the mental health measures.
Group exercisers noticed improvements in all three aspects of their quality of life after 12 weeks. They also saw a decrease in stress levels.
Compared to the group exercisers, solo-exercisers only showed a slight improvement in the mental quality of their lives, even though they worked out for an hour less each week.
The control group did not experience any changes in their stress levels or quality of life at the end of the study.
There are some limitations to the study, such as its small size and inclusion of only medical students.
Students could also choose their exercise group. This can lead to differences in physical or personality that could impact the results.
I should therefore take the results with caution. However, the research suggests the power of working together.
The study appeared in the November issue of The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Working in sync
Another area of research is the effect of group exercise, specifically sync, on social bonding and pain tolerance as well as athletic performance.
Researchers conducted a 2013 study on the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. They recruited individuals to row for 45 minutes.
People who had rowed with others and synchronized their movements had higher pain tolerance than those who rowed alone. Whether people row with friends or strangers, their pain tolerance increases.
Researchers believe that exercise can increase pain tolerance by increasing endorphin levels. This is because of the release of “feel good” hormones, which are released when people get in sync.
This type of coordinated movement is called behavioral synchrony. This can also happen during other group activities like play, religious rituals, or dance.
You may perform better if you are already close with other members of the group.
Researchers found that players who coordinated their movements during warm-ups performed better in a 2015 study trusted source in PLoS ONE.
These athletes were already part of a tight-knit rugby club. Researchers believe that the synched movements in the warm-up strengthened the social bonds between the athletes.
Researchers write that athletes’ perceptions of fatigue pain and discomfort may have been altered by this. Participants could push harder and perform better.
You may find that you can tap into the power and beauty of synchro when you are surrounded by cyclists who are spinning to steady beats or CXWORXing in a coordinated dance.