If you’re struggling to get enough exercise, you’re not alone.
Sixty percent of Australian adults (that’s nine million of us) don’t reach the recommended levels of exercise. Gulp!
But what if there was a simple change you could make to increase your motivation, boost training performance, and be mentally healthier and happier?
There is. It’s group exercise. Here’s 5 reasons why:Group exercise: An easy way to increase your motivation, boost training performance and be mentally healthier and happier. Click To Tweet
1. There’s power in numbers
Training is more fun when you share the highs and lows with others. From pushing through those extra push-ups, a conspiratorial eye-roll with your exercise-neighbour when the going gets tough, to high-fiving when the class is done, having training buddies makes you feel good. And that feeling of belonging is what will motivate you to keep going back.
Even if you prefer to hide on the outskirts (which is perfectly fine, that’s why rooms have edges and corners), research shows that when exercising, people gravitate towards the behaviour of those around them – if the class is pumping with energy, you will too!
These social benefits of group exercise extend beyond the class itself. If you have a day off work, or it’s a weekend workout, follow it with coffee and a chat. You might find that the people you work out with have other interests in common with you too.The social and physical benefit of group exercise extends massively beyond the class itself. Click To Tweet
2. That extra buzz
It’s well known that exercise releases endorphins, those delicious feel-good hormones that give you the exercise high.
But with some types of group exercise your body releases even more endorphins, giving you an even greater buzz!
It’s called synchrony, and it occurs when people perform shared movements. It’s the reason it’s exhilarating at a rock concert when the whole audience sings the lyrics, and why at sporting events people love doing the Mexican wave.
Recent studies have revealed that moving in synchrony not only releases an additional endorphin rush, but also elevates the pain threshold, increase self-esteem, and contributes to a feeling of social bonding and belonging. All while you exercise!
Group fitness classes that involve moving together such as aerobics, Zumba and dance may bring this added benefit to your workouts.
3. The benefit of routine
We make hundreds of decisions each day, and that’s before we even leave the house. Whether to hit the snooze button, have cereal or smoothie for breakfast, which shoes to wear to work!
Setting a routine cuts out the number of decisions you need to make, so your grey matter can focus on other things and give you better mental clarity throughout the day.
Instead of wondering what exercise you should do that day, plan your group exercise timetable at the start of the week. Then when the time comes, just put on your trainers and go.
4. Sticking to the plan
It’s easy to talk yourself out of exercise, but by arranging healthy activities with friends, finding a training buddy, or joining a class or group activity, you’re more likely to follow through.
Stay on track by being accountable to others. If you’ve told your family you’ll be going to Pilates on Tuesday at 6pm, they’ll be expecting you out the door. Or you might like to try some family bonding and take your teenagers along with you. If they’re going to grunt at you, it may as well be because they’re out of breath from exercise.
Don’t forget the middle of the day. We spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with outside friends, and for office workers, 75 percent of our time is sedentary. You can bring positive change in the office with The Heart Foundation’s Walking at Work Programme which helps establish and support active workplaces. Plan to meet with your colleagues for a walk at lunchtime, and challenge neighbouring businesses to join you.
By simply working out in a group instead of on your own, research shows your stress can reduce by up to 26%.
5. Your personal cheerleader
If your group activity has an instructor or coach, they are your personal cheerleader keeping you motivated. Pick one you like, let them know your goals, ask them to help keep you on track. When you find an instructor that you love, you’ll never want to miss a workout.
Options are everywhere
The options for group exercise are everywhere, with group fitness classes covering your cardio needs (try Zumba, aerobics or indoor cycling), strength training (think body pump and circuits) and mindfulness (chill out with yoga or a stretch class).
Most gyms have apps that you can download to your phone to access the latest timetables, check for your favourite instructors, and even book classes with your training buddies.
Don’t feel limited to just gyms, either. Niche options like F45 (45-minute boutique-style classes that are always different), CrossFit (team-focussed core and conditioning workouts), specialist yoga centres, and swim squads are all around you. And don’t forget traditional team sports, like soccer, netball and softball.
An internet search, contacting your local council, noticeboards at shopping centres, or asking for suggestions on your social media are all great ways to find out what other people are doing.
Posting what you’re doing on social media might be just the thing your friends need to join in too!
The Heart Foundation even runs a Walk in a Group Programme, where you can find a walking group anywhere in the country, and track your steps using the Heart Foundation Walking app.
Time to set yourself some goals!
With so many benefits to group exercise, why not set some goals for yourself? Some ideas to get you started are:
- Commit to one group exercise class each week until Christmas
- Try two different group exercises in the next month
- Start a once a week walk for you and your work colleagues
What new experiences have you had with group exercise? Tell us in the comment section below.
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