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It’s official: Group fitness classes are better for reducing stress than sweating on your own


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Photo: Stocksy/Lumina

When your body and mind aren’t on the same page, it’s helpful to have a workout buddy who makes showing up to HIIT class more enticing or encourages you to beat your personal record. And if the communal effects of social sweating seem just a little more effective than your solo gym time, it turns out science agrees with you.

According to a new study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Associationgroup workouts improved all three quality-of-life measures: mental, physical, and emotional. (For mental, it was 13 percent higher; physical, 25 percent; and emotional, 26 percent.)

Working out with a group decreased perceived stress levels by 26 percent.

And get this: Working out with a group also decreased perceived stress levels (you know, the thing that’s literally keeping you up at night) by 26 percent.

Not that working out alone has detrimental effects on your health, but according to the study, when going at it in solidarity, folks went twice as long and the only noteworthy change they saw was an 11 percent increase in mental quality of life.

If this seems like definitive proof that your ClassPass membership is paying for itself twice over, there are a few things to note. First, this study was conducted on 69 medical school students, which is a very specific sample. Second, the study’s participants self-selected working out alone or with a group, which could mean that people picked the setting they know they prefer. It also appears that the subjects of the study knew each other, which means some of the group-environment benefits might have been due to camaraderie and bonding—factors that may not be present when working out with a squad of strangers.

At the very least, though, this could be proof that your office needs more team workouts. (Hello, HR?)

If you are going to take a group class, consider going to this Justin Bieber–backed boxing gym or one of fall’s newest and buzziest studios.