Exercise has countless physical benefits. People who exercise regularly can reduce their risk for heart disease naturally. Exercise is known to boost energy levels, and help folks get better sleep. But exercising alone can be intimidating. In addition to having to get over the mental hurdle of other gym-goers potentially judging you, women often deal with harassment at the gym. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to make me stay at home.
Group exercise may be the answer to your (and my) gym shyness, and it may be even better for your health than exercising solo. A small study published inout of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association looked at the effects of group exercise classes on stress and quality of life of medical students, and found that those who participated in group exercise enjoyed more health benefits than those who exercised alone or not at all.
This study is unique because it focused on a group that is perpetually stressed out — medical students. You may think medical students would know all about the potential health benefits of exercising and act accordingly, but a 2015 study found that many doctors finish medical school without getting any training on the importance of exercise.
“Group exercise is a great strategy that can help [...] improve your mood,” Chelsea Williams, a Certified Communicator in Public Health, tells Bustle.
It’s important to note that everyone is not able to get these benefits. Some folks are physically unable to exercise, and others suffer from depression, which can make exercise challenging despite the benefits exercising has on mood. "Telling someone who’s severely depressed to exercise an hour a week is like telling them to swim the entire Atlantic Ocean to London," psychologist Dorian Crawford told Bustle earlier this year.
That being said, there are plenty of benefits for people who are able to exercise, especially in a group. Ahead, you’ll find a list of mental health benefits for those who are able to participate in group exercise.