Lacking fitness motivation? Try working out in a group

team of sporty people training in fitness club
Group exercises such as yoga and water aerobics can help reduce joint pain while also strengthening muscles. (Photo: Envato Elements)
It is common knowledge that any form of physical activity benefits our health. From casual walking to intense weightlifting and everything in between, there are many pros to working out. The first benefits that come to mind are the physical ones: increased muscle and bone mass, flexibility, and improved cardiovascular health, to name a few.اضافة اعلان

But physical activity also pays dividends for our mental health. It is well established that regular exercise improves mood, sleep quality, energy levels, and even longevity.

Regardless of your workout routine, you will likely experience some or all of these well-being boosters to differing degrees. But what about social impact? Can exercise bring benefits to your social life? The short answer is yes, and one of the best ways to experience this for yourself is to exercise in a group.

Group exercise: The pros
Nearly any type of exercise can be made into a group exercise. In the fitness world, “group” refers to more than two people, and typically in group workouts, an instructor or group member takes the lead. This type of exercise brings with it many benefits, as follows.

Pain tolerance: One noticeable benefit of group fitness is improved pain tolerance. A 2013 study assessed the effect of group synchrony during an intense workout. For the experiment, participants worked out on rowing machines. Half of the participants rowed in sync as a group, while the other half rowed individually.

The researchers found that those who were part of the group row experienced significantly higher pain tolerance levels than those who rowed individually. More impressively, these findings were consistent even if the group members had never met before.

Research seems to suggest that this increased pain threshold is due to a concept known as behavioral synchrony. Behavioral synchrony, a phenomenon seen in many social and group activities, is thought to increase the release of hormones known as endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killer, and they can also reduce stress while increasing an overall sense of well-being.

Team performance: The physiological effects of group exercises are accompanied by psychological effects that may help improve overall athletic performance. A 2015 study conducted on rugby players went further than the 2013 rowing study in investigating the social element of group exercise. The researchers found that rugby players who were on a team and performed synchronous activities, such as warm-ups together, experienced increased social bonding.

This strong social bond ultimately allowed for greater physical and athletic team performance. Additionally, although this study could not definitively prove it, researchers theorized that the endorphins released in group exercise could potentially generate an “exercise-induced social high”, further enhancing well-being.

Better adherence: Although any amount of exercise is beneficial, the full potential advantages will not be seen without consistency. This means that exercise should follow a schedule or routine; however, many find it difficult to stick to a fitness plan. Reports as to why vary, but one major factor is motivation.
Almost any form of workout can be done in a group, with plenty of options to help meet your individual goals.
Fortunately, group exercise may help with adherence, potentially by offering an additional source of motivation — if your workout buddies are at spin class, you are more likely to attend. In a 2016 study, researchers assessed the adherence rate of older populations to community group exercise. They found that group fitness classes had nearly a 70 percent adherence rate.

Another similar study looked into some of the reasons for the higher adherence rates observed with group exercise. The most noteworthy factor was motivation, which was largely influenced by the physical and mental benefits of exercise and the positive impact of social interactions. Additionally, it was found that improved social interactions often lead to the formation of positive everyday habits.

Group exercise: The cons
Although group workouts have many benefits, they may not be right for everyone. Ultimately your choice of working out alone or in a group depends on your goals.

One of the most considerable limitations of group exercise is supervision and safety, particularly in exercises that engage in high-intensity workouts. High-intensity exercise requires proper form and supervision to reduce the risk of injury to joints or muscles. Any injury can incur medical bills along with a loss in productivity and fitness results during the time spent healing. Since the attention of a group trainer is divided among multiple people, there may be a higher risk of injury when working out in a group.

Conversely, since the intensity is tailored to the average group member, you may not be reaping the full benefit of your workout. Every individual is different, especially in terms of physical fitness. What may be considered moderate intensity for one could be low intensity for another.

This was the primary focus of a 1997 study, which focused on the effectiveness of group workouts versus individual workouts in treating obesity. It was found that, at six months, two sets of participants (one performing group workouts and one performing individual workouts) experienced significant weight loss along with other improvements.

However, by 12 months, those performing individual exercises had higher participation and adherence rates. At 15 months, those working out alone had lost significantly more weight than those working out in a group. Researchers proposed that the lack of adherence was due primarily to a lack of individualized pacing, which caused participants to become demotivated and give up.

Group workouts for everyone
Almost any form of workout can be done in a group, with plenty of options to help meet your individual goals. For those who are looking for cardio, consider joining a walking or jogging group. Alternatively, you can form your own group with neighbors, friends, or family for free. For higher-intensity cardio, group stationary cycling or “spin classes” may be a good option. The QuickSand gym in Abdoun provides spin classes, among other types of group classes.

Sports also fall under the category of group exercise, especially activities that involve running. Soccer is widely played and loved by many in Jordan. Many schools in Jordan offer their soccer fields for a private reservation, and the price is quite cheap when split amongst friends. Soccer can be an excellent way to stay in shape while also spending quality time with friends.

Finally, group exercises such as yoga and water aerobics can help reduce joint pain while also strengthening muscles. This may be particularly apt for older fitness gurus.

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