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Social Benefits of Group Exercise
Exercise doesn’t have to be a solo thing! Exercising in a group can provide the following social benefits:
#1 - Make new friends / meet new like-minded people
The main social benefit of group exercise classes is the fact that you will meet new people and may even make new friends.
A barrier to exercise for some people may be that they don’t feel comfortable going alone, so a class is a perfect solution to overcome this barrier. Even though you may attend the class alone, once you arrive you are surrounded by like-minded people, which is also a great social benefit.
For example, if you go to a Zumba class, you will meet like-minded people who also love to dance! It’s definitely a great way to make new friends that share similar interests to you.
Moreover, due to the fact that everyone in the class shares at least one core thing - they enjoy the class! - visiting a class can also provide a sense of community.
#2 - Improve and utilize your social skills - teamwork, communication, etc.
Another great social benefit to group exercise is the opportunity to develop/improve and utilize your social skills. Depending on the type of exercise that you take part in, skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication can come into play.
Mental Benefits of Group Exercise
Exercise is not just good for the body, it’s also good for the mind! The following 3 plus points are all mental benefits of group exercise classes:
#3 - Reduces stress
A big mental benefit of group exercise is that it reduces stress. Levels of stress, especially in modern society, are quite high as we have a lot to manage. One of the biggest causes of high stress levels is work, so taking some time out to relax can help to clear your mind and reduce your stress levels.
Consistently high stress levels can lead to health problems, for example high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or mental health problems.
Plus, if you’re overweight and are trying to lose weight, high stress levels could be preventing you from successfully doing so. Stress releases cortisol, which is a hormone that regulates multiple responses throughout the body, including your metabolism and immune response.
Too much cortisol, however, for example in the case of high stress levels, can cause weight gain, particularly around the midsection. Additionally, long term high levels of cortisol increases your blood sugar levels, which can put you at risk of type 2 diabetes.
#4 - Boosts motivation / Provides accountability
Sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation to go and workout, especially in Winter when it’s cold and dark outside, and probably raining! It can be hard to get yourself out of bed early or head to the gym after a long day at work.
One of the benefits of group exercise classes is that they provide you with that motivation you need! It’s very easy to think “Ah, I’ll skip my workout today” when it’s only you that will be let down. However, it is much harder to skip if you have others that are expecting you to show up, such as friends and family, and even the class instructor.
This also links in with accountability, as the others can hold you accountable. Working out with others can also increase your competitive side and encourage you to work even harder.
Additionally, classes are run at set times and some gyms may require you to book your space in the class beforehand. This is a great motivation as if you are already signed up and you have a time to aim for, you’re more likely to stick to this schedule and go and work out.
On the other hand, when you work out alone in the gym, you can go at any time during opening hours, so it’s easy to say “I’ll go in an hour” or “I’ll go at 2pm”, and then find excuses to put it off.
#5 - Improves self-esteem and confidence
A third mental benefit of group exercise is that it can improve your confidence and boost your self-esteem. Exercising can give you a sense of accomplishment, when you reach the end of a class you will feel a sense of pride which can give you a real confidence boost.
Over time, you will progress and get stronger and fitter, and when you see these changes this is a great boost to your self-esteem. For example, when you first start out at a weights based class, such as Les Mills Body Pump, you might start off with the lightest weights.
As you take part in the class more often, you will soon be able to increase the weights that you use, and will find yourself warming up with weights that used to be a challenge.
Exercising also helps to improve your posture (this is also a physical benefit!) which can increase your confidence and increase your self-belief.
Physical Benefits of Group Exercise
Perhaps the most obvious benefits of exercise are the physical ones. Of course, as well as the mental and social benefits of group exercise, there are also physical benefits. Below are the top two…
#6 - Improves cardiovascular fitness
Exercising in a group can improve your cardiovascular fitness. With a wide range of activities and classes to choose from, there are plenty of options to get you moving.
When you find a form of exercise that you enjoy, it no longer feels like a chore or like you “have to do it”. And with such a wide variety of choice, not only from group exercise classes (such as Fusion, Hiit, Zumba or Aqua Aerobics), Pilates, there’s bound to be something for everyone.
When you enjoy it, you're more likely to stick to it, and this will therefore result in an improvement in your cardiovascular fitness. As the saying goes, consistency is key, and you’re more likely to be consistent at something if you enjoy it!
Furthermore, group exercise can encourage you to push yourself out of your comfort zone and work harder.
With others around you, it brings out natural competitiveness, and you push yourself more than perhaps you would when working out alone, as when working out alone you have no-one to compare yourself too.
Moreover, you have the additional motivation and encouragement from the instructor, which can also help you to work to your full potential. Having the instructor to give you that extra push perhaps just to complete one more rep can be beneficial, compared to working out alone when you may give up when you really could squeeze in at least one more rep! Pushing yourself safely to your maximum potential will help improve your cardiovascular fitness.
#7 - Improves muscular endurance
One of the other physical benefits, in a similar vein to improving your cardiovascular fitness, is that it can help to improve your muscular endurance.
Similarly to improving your cardiovascular fitness, group exercise can motivate you and give you that extra little push you need to keep going. Combined with the fact that you’re potentially more likely to stick to group exercise compared to exercising alone (due to all of the benefits mentioned above such as accountability, motivation etc.), sticking to a consistent routine will allow you to build on your muscular endurance.
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