Working out in a group provides significantly more stress relief than going it alone, according to a new study. Researchers found improved quality of life and about a 25 percent stress reduction from group exercise, but determined that individual exercisers did not experience much relief.
“The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone,” said lead researcher Dayna Yorks, DO. Her group tested 69 medical students, who tend toward high levels of stress and self-reported low quality of life. The students self-selected into a 12-week exercise program, either in a group or alone. Every four weeks, they self-rated their perceived levels of mental, physical, and emotional stress and quality of life.
At the end of the trial, the group exercisers showed significant improvements in all categories. In contrast, the individual exercisers (who worked out twice as long, on average) reported gains only in their mental quality of life.