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Benefits of Group vs. Solo Exercise: Better Together or Apart?

Benefits of Group vs. Solo Exercise: Better Together or Apart?

Benefits of Group vs. Solo Exercise: Better Together or Apart?

Should you work out on your own or with others? There’s no right answer. All exercise is beneficial. Both solo workouts and group physical activity offer specific benefits and appeal, depending on your personality, motivation, and other factors. As you work to meet your fitness and wellness goals for the year ahead, try getting active alone and with friends or as part of a class to find what works best for you.

Exercise Your Way to Better Health

Why exercise regularly? Participating in physical activity is one of the best steps you can take to enhance your health. You’ll feel the health benefits of being active from head to toe and in every aspect of life. These benefits include:

  • Better management of chronic diseases. Physical activity can help you control a variety of common, long-term health conditions, including diabetes and arthritis. Regular physical activity can also help you lose weight.
  • Enhanced mood. You’re less likely to develop depression or feel overwhelmed by stress when you exercise.
  • Increased strength and flexibility. Physical activity boosts bone and muscle strength and flexibility. This benefit is especially important for older adults because strong bones and flexible muscles help protect against osteoporosis, improve balance, and prevent falls.
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise can lower your blood pressure, help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and lower your risk of coronary artery disease and other forms of heart disease.

Getting Started: Ease Into Exercise

If you’re new to regular physical activity, before you start swimming laps or join a fast-paced class at the gym, check with your primary care provider to ensure exercise is safe and appropriate for you. Once you get the green light, work up to the recommended amount of weekly exercise by slowly increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts over time.

With each workout, don’t forget to:

  • Allow yourself to cool down with a post-activity walk and stretches.
  • Get the blood flowing to your muscles with a warm-up walk and stretches.
  • Pay attention to your body’s limits and take a break if you experience pain.
  • Stay hydrated before, during, and after physical activity.

To benefit the most from regular physical activity, ensure your workout regimen includes both major types of exercise: aerobic activity and strength training. Aerobic activity, such as going for a brisk walk, increases your heart rate. Running, jumping rope, and other aerobic activities are some of the biggest calorie burners.

Strength training — also known as resistance training — works your body’s major muscle groups. Examples of strength training include weightlifting, using resistance bands, and doing pushups.

Going as a Group

Worried about sticking with exercise for the long term? Working out with a group, whether as part of a regular gathering of friends or a scheduled class at a local fitness center, can help you commit to physical activity by keeping you accountable to others and giving you something to look forward to.

Exercising with others can be especially beneficial for older adults. A 2023 study by Japanese researchers found that older adults who exercised with others at least twice per week were less likely to develop cognitive impairment than those who exercised at least a couple of times each week by themselves.

Group exercise provides several benefits, including:

  • Ability to learn from fitness professionals as part of a class
  • Network of support and encouragement when your motivation to exercise flags
  • Opportunities to stay social and have fun with others while pursuing a shared interest
  • Opportunities to try new activities you might not attempt alone
  • Structure that can help exercise become a habit

Active Alone

Group exercise isn’t for everyone, at least not all the time. You may be more comfortable exercising alone, and that’s okay. Solo exercise can be beneficial by:

  • Allowing you the flexibility to exercise when and where you prefer
  • Allowing you to exercise at your own pace
  • Reducing self-consciousness

Working out alone may be a good choice if you’re self-motivated and disciplined. Don’t shut the door on group exercise, though. Eventually, you may find that adding an exercise class or regular running meet-up with friends brings a fun and pleasantly challenging new dimension to your fitness routine.

Ready to start exercising regularly? Find a primary care provider at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County who can help identify the safest, most beneficial forms of physical activity for you.