The study, conducted on 69 high-stress medical students, showed that those who exercised in a group lowered their stress levels by 26 per cent when compared to those who work out alone or don’t work out at all. The findings took into account the mental, physical and emotional aspects of health over a 12-week study period for selected participants, providing a holistic insight into the effects of group exercise.
“The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone,” said Dayna Yorks, lead researcher on this study.
However before you swear off exercising alone, the solo sweaters did return some positive results, even if they didn’t hit the peaks of the group exercisers. Solo participants averaged double the workout length, and an 11 per cent increase in mental quality of life. In any case, any workout is better than none, with results from the study showing those who remained inactive over the trial period noting no health benefits in any case.
The 2017 research has found new life during the pandemic and subsequent global lockdowns, with new research into the effects of isolation on motivation, funded by ASICS, released this week. ASICS’ research, which kicked off immediately after the pandemic began, reveals that three in four (74 per cent globally) of team sport players say sport or exercise is more enjoyable when played with friends and teammates and two thirds (67 per cent globally) admit to missing the chance to compete with others. Of the respondents, half claim their mental wellbeing has been negatively impacted by being disconnected from teammates.
Whilst both studies are clear indicators of the benefits of group exercise, there’s still hesitation amongst many to get involved due to safety concerns associated with community transmission of COVID-19. Over half (55 per cent) of respondents in the 2020 ASICS study said they would feel safer keeping all events virtual for the time being. Enter, virtual team events.
With traditional events taking the virtual route this year (looking at you City2Surf and Blackmores Running Festival), ASICS is the latest, this time incorporating a team element to help with problems factors identified in the research.
Through their new ASICS World Ekiden 2020, a team-based virtual marathon created in direct response to the research, they aim to help people renew their connections with each other, enjoy the mental and physical benefits of team competition and re-energise their collective love of sport and exercise with a shared goal.