Group Exercise Really Works!

New research explains huge popularity of group exercise – we love those endorphins!

The benefits of group exercise are hardly a secret in the fitness industry. Experts will happily point to increased motivation, correct teaching form, variety of exercise and simply “a fun way to exercise” as reasons why it proves so successful for so many people.

However, new research from the Oxford Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology has taken things a step further and helped to shed light on why these benefits occur. A study was carried out on the famed Oxford rowing team whereby a group of six rowers competed as a team and then individually. Unsurprisingly each individual’s results were far better when working as a team.

After every workout, a blood-pressure cuff was tightened around one arm of each subject until he reported pain, an indirect method of measuring endorphin levels in the brain. Endorphins – the same chemicals that stimulate “runner’s high” – produce a mild opiate high and create a sense of well-being as well as blocking pain. Sure enough, the rowers’ pain threshold was consistently twice as high after exercising with their teammates compared to exercising alone, even though the intensity of the workouts was identical.

Endorphins are produced by virtually any vigorous physical activity, but there is now evidence that group work enhances the effect dramatically – and exercise classes certainly fall into this category.

Of course, exercising with partners or in groups has all sorts of benefits that have nothing to do with neuroscience, from the simple act of committing to meet someone, to the pleasures of gossiping during a workout or in the café at the club post-workout. But the endorphin findings help explain how exercise is transformed from a chore to a lifelong habit, and indeed a pleasure, for some people – and suggest one way of getting there.

We are committed to making Club Towers a fun, social environment for all, so whether you want to get a kick out of group exercise and put this research to the test, or simply use our exercise classes as a way of meeting friends and socialising, you will find just what you want with us! Full group exercise timetable at Club Towers can be found here.