By: Erika Simon
Group fitness is popular due to its ability to give you a well-rounded exercise routine while still keeping you motivated after each class. Although I usually like doing things solo, I found that signing up to a group exercise class with a friend was a great way for me to ensure I stay dedicated and keep trying to push myself past my comfort zone. Exercising as a group can encourage structure, provide support and even urge attendance.
According to research done by Oxford’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, test subjects who worked out as a group had a surge of endorphin twice as high as those who worked out alone. It is probable that the flood of endorphin shares similarities with the responses gained from other group activities, anything from “dancing and laughter to religion itself”, embedded in human culture for centuries (Hutchinson). The word gymnasium for example, (rooting from their word gymnós meaning naked) is what the Ancient Greeks called their exercise facility as early as the seventh century BC. There they would train and have religious athletic contests but were also known to take part in intellectual discussions.
Alex Hutchinson for The Globe and Mail reported “Endorphins are produced by virtually any vigorous physical activity, but group work appears to enhance the effect dramatically… In a series of studies stretching back more than a decade, University of Saskatchewan professor Kevin Spink has found those who feel a greater sense of ‘groupness’ and cohesion within an exercise class are more punctual, have better attendance and even work harder.”
Of course, it is up to personal preference and you should do whatever works best for you. But thanks to neuroscience, we now know that not only does group fitness encourage sociability, but it may also have an improved fitness benefit.
For more information check out Alex Hutchinson’s report.