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6 reasons to exercise with others

We at Body&Fit believe everyone deserves to feel fit, healthy and confident, no matter what challenges come our way. It’s been almost two years of living in lockdowns, dealing with gym closures and spending little time with the people we love. Now, as life gets back to some kind of normal, it’s time to get out there and move together. We all know the benefits of movement — it’s what we’re all about here at Body&Fit — but it’s always better when you can get inspired, motivated and learn from the people you move with. So, to celebrate being able to achieve our goals together again, we explore what makes training with others so special, whether it’s with a best friend, your family, or a group of complete fit-seeking strangers!

You make real human connections

Whether it’s a group HIIT session in the park or a weekly hot yoga class, exercising with others allows you to meet like-minded people and make new friends. Studies have shown that those with strong connections to friends, family and the community are generally happier, have less mental and physical health problems, and even live longer. The possible explanations for this are widespread and cover lots of physiological and behavioural factors. Supportive interactions, for example, can benefit immune and cardiovascular functions. In a more indirect way, positive social ties can influence our healthy behaviours, too (you may want to quit smoking if all your spin class friends are non-smokers, for example). There are so many ways that forging real human connections can benefit our health, and if you’re combining this with exercise, it’s the perfect combination for a healthy, happy life. 

There are no excuses — you push yourself to the max

In a group training session, no one wants to be the weakest link. Everyone is going to push themselves to the max. It’s known as the Köhler Effect — when someone works harder as part of a group than when alone. The next time you’re on the squat rack or out for a run alone, try to notice the difference in your performance compared to when you’re doing it with a friend or group, especially if there’s someone a little fitter or stronger than you involved. You might be surprised how far you can push yourself with that extra bit of inspiration.

Exercising together is so much fun!

Let’s be honest, exercising with friends or in a group is way more fun than working out all alone. You can laugh together, help each other out, give each other tips and just have a great time. Sure, getting in a session alone still releases endorphins, but exercising in a group setting can increase those ‘feel-good’ chemicals outside of just being active. One of them is through smiling. When you’re loving the class and moving with a great bunch of people, it can really make you feel amazing in a way beyond the normal ‘high’ you get after a solo session. 

You get to try out new things you wouldn’t normally do alone

It’s a good thing to get out of your comfort zone occasionally. A fitness routine is great, but it can also prevent you from trying out new things. Surrounding yourself with other people is a great way to keep things interesting. They can influence you to be brave and come to that new aerials class or go join those body pump sessions in the park. Of course, don’t do things you’re not comfortable with, but it can be healthy to give in to positive peer pressure sometimes. 

There are also only so many exercises you can do alone. Throw another person or a group into the mix and you can get creative with the way you train. Medicine balls, resistance bands and body weight exercises are super fun to do with a partner. If you’re training in the gym, having someone there to make sure you’re using a new machine correctly and safely is also a huge plus.  

You might just discover you have a healthy competitive edge

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition! If you’re not into team sports or competing yourself, you might just discover that side of you when training with others. It’s innate in all of us, after all. When we see someone else who’s going that bit harder than us, it’s only natural to want to step up our game. When we do, we can go home feeling great, knowing that we’ve gotten the best out of our workout.  

You’re more likely stay committed to your routine

It’s never fun when you’re the one who doesn’t show up to the session. Cancellations and ‘no shows’ get noticed by others, and this can help you get off the couch and out the door, no matter how much you want to stay home watching Netflix. One study compared people going through a weight loss programme. It found that 95% percent of those doing it with friends or family completed the programme, compared to 76% of those tackling it alone. So, whether you want to lose weight, build muscle or simply stay healthy, bring some friends along for the ride and you’ll have a better chance of achieving your goals.

Fun group workout ideas

To inspire you to get out there and move together, we’ve listed of some of our favourite workouts you can do with your friends, family, colleagues or new-found fitness buddies. 

Grab your hiking boots and hit the trails

What’s better than exploring the great outdoors, catching up with friends and getting in some cardio? Hiking is great for the heart and legs, and many find it helps to lower their stress levels. If your friends aren’t into the idea, you can find plenty of hiking groups online. 

Rock out at the climbing gym

If there’s ever a way to build trust with people, let them hold your safety rope as you make your way up and down a climbing wall. If heights aren’t your thing, you can try bouldering instead. Either way, you’ll get a serious full-body workout and have an absolute blast.

Go plogging!

Plogging is basically the act of picking up trash as you run. You’re not just looking after yourself here, but the environment, too. Just get some friends together, grab your trash bags and head out there. If you need some inspiration, check out Body&Fit ambassador, endurance runner and passionate plogger Paul’s ‘find your fit’ story to learn how he incorporates plogging into his running routine. 

Find your inner zen together

It’s not always about getting a pump on or clocking in the miles. Sometimes, it’s important just to chill. The collective energy in a group yoga class is like nothing else. Whether you’re doing a vinyasa flow or some mindful meditation, it can really help build lasting connections and fuel you for the rest of the day. 

So, the next time you’re ready to move…

… ask a friend to join, organise an active outing, or look around online to see what group activities are going on near you. We’re not saying you should stop training alone (there are lots of plus sides to that, too). Although, as we’ve seen, exercising with others has benefits for your mental and physical wellbeing. You’ve probably got more chance of pushing yourself harder, staying committed, meeting new friends and discovering new and exciting possibilities. Plus, it’s so much fun! So, let’s explore what’s out there, give it our all and MOVE TOGETHER!