Hitting the gym with your friends can help better reduce stress and boost your quality of life compared to exercising alone, a study has found. The study, published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, found that working out in a group lowers stress by 26 percent while those who exercise individually put in more effort but experienced no significant changes in their stress levels.
Researchers recruited 69 medical students – a group known for high levels of stress and self-reported low quality of life – and allowed them to self-select into a twelve-week exercise programme, either within a group setting or as individuals.
Every four weeks, participants completed a survey asking them to rate their levels of perceived stress and quality of life in three categories: mental, physical and emotional. Those participating in group exercise spent 30 minutes at least once a week at a core strengthening and functional fitness training programme, researchers said. At the end of the twelve weeks, their monthly average survey scores showed significant improvements in all three quality of life measures: mental, physical and emotional.
They also reported a 26.2 percent reduction in perceived stress levels, researchers said. The individual fitness participants were allowed to maintain any exercise regimen they preferred, which could include activities like running and weightlifting, but they had to work out alone or with no more than two partners. The team found the solitary exercisers worked out twice as long on average and saw no significant changes in any measure, except in mental quality of life.