When you work out, is it alone, with a group, in a class, or even with a team? It goes without saying that everyone has their personal preference when working out, but do the benefits of each workout setting extend past what’s personally preferred? New research suggests that there could be.
Researchers took 69 participants from the New England College of Osteopathic Medicine who were in their first or second year of schooling. The students were allowed to select one of three groups to joint, and were split into the following:
- Group: Students who worked out in a 30-minute group class at least once a week.
- Alone: Students who worked out alone, or with up to two other students at least twice a week.
- No Workout: Students who didn’t workout at all (as a control group).
Researchers followed these groups for 12-weeks, and students completed a Perceived Stress Scale every 4-weeks, along with completing an initial baseline test. In addition, they rated their quality of life in three aspects every 4-weeks including: Mental, emotional, and physical.
This recent study highlights that working out in groups decreased perceived levels of stress by 26%. Additionally, the researchers highlight that those who worked out in group settings saw an improvement in the three tested qualities of life. These participants saw improvements in their emotional state by 26%, mental by 12%, and physical state by 24.8%.
Those who worked out alone were permitted to continue their current workout routine, and also saw an increase in the mental aspect of their life by 11%. Yet, this group saw no other changes in their stress levels, or other life qualities over the 12-week intervention.
Why Does It Matter?
Normally this study would receive a nod from me, and not much more thought. But what caught my eye was the population, and how it could relate to strength athletes.
First, the population. Medical students go into school with the realization that they’re going to be stressed all of the time, which will lower the quality of life. I thought the results were interesting because so many of us find ourselves wound up and stressed out on a regular basis (who aren’t in medical school).
This being said, could a workout with a sense of camaraderie really be that much better for improvement of one’s progress and life? It’s worth a thought, especially with the results this study found.
Second, strength sports. The study’s population wasn’t composed of hardcore athletes, but it brings up an interesting point. Many strength athletes find themselves on teams, and in gyms with like-minded individuals. These athletes are typically (from what I’ve seen in my career) more invested and content with the progress they make, as opposed to those who individually train.
This could be a key for anyone who trains alone and constantly find themselves bored, or discontent with training. Maybe joining a team, finding similar athletes, or a coach is the key.
This research isn’t groundbreaking by any means, as we’ve known for a while that those who take part in something bigger than themselves tend to be happier. But it does bring up a few great points, especially when looking at the population, and thinking about how it could apply for strength athletes.
Feature image from @elleryphotos Instagram page.