The Tiny Workout Tweak That Will Make You Way Happier & Less Stressed, According To Science
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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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Leigh Weingus is a New York City based freelance journalist and former Senior Relationships Editor at mindbodygreen where she analyzed new research on human behavior, looked at the intersection of wellness and women's empowerment, and took deep dives into the latest sex and relationship trends. She received her bachelor’s in English and Communication from the University of California, Davis. She has written for HuffPost, Glamour, and NBC News, among others, and is a certified yoga instructor.