A famous African proverb teaches that “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Although this philosophy was probably not on the mind of researchers from University of New England, the saying rings true in their findings. Their research suggests that working out with a group of people is significantly more effective than working out alone when it comes to lowering stress.

Published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, the study included 69 medical students participating in an exercise program over a 12-week period. The participants worked out in a group or as individuals and were evaluated every four weeks via a survey rating stress levels and quality of life in physical, mental, and emotional health categories. Group exercise participants had significant improvements in the three evaluation categories (12.6% in mental health, 24.8% in physical health, 26% in emotional health) as well as a 26.2% reduction in perceived stress levels. Despite working out twice as long, participants working out by themselves reported no significant changes in the three categories except for mental health, with an 11% increase.

Graph: Group Fitness More Effective Than Individual Workouts

The More The Merrier

According to Dayna Yorks of the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, “The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone.” It is important to note that the size of the study warrants a larger scale study to validate the results.

For employers, it may be worth rethinking onsite gym benefits. Having a gym at the office is certainly a great perk, but without group fitness classes or other programming, employees will be limited to individual workouts, which may not generate the full benefits employers seek to derive. Since they are already investing in the physical space, carving out an area for onsite group classes is an easy addition that, per the study, could have some significant benefits. This is why Wellable’s Wellness Services solutions include a comprehensive list of onsite fitness classes that employers can use to improve the physical space environment of their entire wellness experience.

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