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The Tiny Workout Tweak That Will Make You Way Happier & Less Stressed, According To Science

Photo by Victor Torres
October 31, 2017

Ever feel like health news is too overwhelming, fast-paced, or hard to decipher? Us too. Here, we filter through the latest in integrative health, wellness trends, and nutrition advice, reporting on the most exciting and meaningful breakthroughs. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to know—and how it might help you become a healthier and happier human.

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There's a reason why you love those group cycling classes so much: According to new research published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, exercising with a group significantly improves quality of life and lowers stress.

For the study, researchers at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine recruited a group of 69 stressed-out medical students and divided them into three groups. One group did a 30-minute workout with a group at least once a week, another group exercised on their own, and a third group abstained from exercise other than to walk or bike to work.

Despite the fact that the solitary exercisers worked out twice as long, they didn't see many significant changes in their quality of life or stress levels, while the group exercisers experienced an improved mental state and reduction of stress by 26 percent.

"The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone," lead researcher Dayna Yorks, D.O., said. "The findings support the concept of a mental, physical and emotional approach to health that is necessary for student doctors and physicians."

This finding could have a lot to do with the fact that when we exercise with others, we experience a greater rush of happiness than when we exercise solo. "Exercise releases biochemicals that help you bond with those you are working out with, and being together in a community also releases bonding biochemicals," explains neurologist Ilene Ruhoy. "So really it is almost like a double dose of biochemicals, which helps to strengthen your sense of community."

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