Exercising with friends lowers stress and improves quality of life significantly more than working out alone, experts say.
Researchers found that exercising in a group reduced stress by 26 percent in some people compared to lone keep-fit fans.
Individuals who exercise on their own do so for twice as long and do not experience any noticeable changes in day-to-day stress levels, scientists at a leading medical college revealed.
Dr Dayna Yorks and her team found that mental, physical and emotional well-being improves life, specifically for those in stressful jobs.
Researchers at the University of New England found that exercising in a group reduced stress by 26 percent in some people compared to lone keep-fit fans (file image)
Dr Yorks led the study with researchers from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.
She said: ‘The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone.
‘The findings support the concept of a mental, physical and emotional approach to health that is necessary for student doctors and physicians.’
In a 12-week study the team recruited 69 medical students, as they worked in a highly stressful profession and allowed them to select an exercise program, either in groups or individuals.
They were compared to a control group who abstained from exercise other than walking or biking as a means of transportation.
Participants completed a survey every four weeks asking them to rate their levels of perceived stress and quality of life in three categories, mental, physical and emotional.
The group exercise teams spent 30 minutes at least once a week completing a core strengthening and functional fitness training programme and saw significant improvements in all three categories.
Improvements in mental health saw a 12.6 percent increase, physical health 24.8 percent and emotional health saw a 26.2 percent increase
But individual fitness participants found that their mental quality of life improved by 11 percent, but saw no other improvement despite working for twice as long.
Dr Yorks said: ‘Medical schools understand their programs are demanding and stressful. Given this data on the positive impact group fitness can have, schools should consider offering group fitness opportunities.
‘Giving students an outlet to help them manage stress and feel better mentally and physically can potentially alleviate some of the burnout and anxiety in the profession.’
The study was published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.