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Do You Get a Better Workout When Exercising Alone, or With Others?

Written by: Samantha Higley | WVUGo Media - Sports and Active Lifestyles Writer

Group Exercise Photo by: Ben Powell

Group workouts can peak motivation, but solo workouts let you conquer personal goals. Which will you choose?

Sometimes a good workout can be that sunrise fitness class, with music pumping and a coach at the front of the room shouting encouragement to a room full of (currently socially distanced) sweaty people. Other times, your best workout can be going on a run by yourself, giving you time for reflection and quiet. Whether by yourself or with a group, there are many benefits associated with the atmosphere in which you exercise. There’s no wrong answer to this, but learning how to work out alone or with a group could inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.

Working out in a group may seem daunting at first. Working out in front of a bunch of strangers may be out of some people’s comfort zones. But the atmosphere can provide the perfect opportunity to get a killer workout in. Studies have shown that exercising in a group can boost motivation and performance. Many people often raise their performance to match those around them, especially if they were surrounded by people more athletic than them. You can use this to your advantage when working out with friends. Regardless of their abilities, working out with people you know is a great way to stay motivated. A study conducted by the Journal of Social Sciences found that when doing a weightless program with friends “5 percent of those who started a weight-loss program with friends completed the program, compared to a 76 percent completion rate for those who tackled the program alone” (NBC News). In addition to motivation, working out with a group can hold you accountable. It’s harder to hit the snooze button when you know people are counting on you to show up. These same effects can be experienced by working out with a partner, as long as you choose a buddy that motivates you.

Solo workouts can provide a time for personal growth, allowing you to focus on your own goals and skills. Without the commitment required from a group fitness class or the schedules of others, opting to exercise alone allows you to mold your regimen to your own schedule. This added flexibility can maximize your time. Setting your own fitness goals varies the focus of your exercise. It’s important to switch up your workouts. Targeting the same muscle groups for every workout “can create an imbalance in our muscular system, which can lead to postural misalignment, chronic pain, and injury” (Elite Daily). Different exercises can be done at the speed and intensity of the individual. Overall, working out alone can provide a low-stress environment. You can feel free to make mistakes, look as weird as you want, and jam out to whatever music you want. However, the benefits of working out alongside others are more prevalent than in those who exercise alone. A 12-week study of participants found that “group exercise participants had significant improvements of 12.6 percent in mental health, 24.8 percent in physical health, 26 percent in emotional health and a 26.2 percent reduction in perceived stress levels” (UPI Health). This isn’t to discourage those that thrive off alone time, but if you’re working out alone, try signing up for the occasional group fitness class to switch things up!

The atmosphere and overall experience that you want to have while working out can be a key factor in deciding whether group workouts or solo workouts are best suited for you. If you’re looking for a high-energy environment, where you can feel motivated to work as hard as those around you, then sign up for a fitness class near you! If you want a more relaxed, self-motivated workout, then working out alone is your best bet. Regardless of your typical routine, any combination of group and solo workouts is going to leave you feeling happier and healthier.

If you’re looking for some fun and challenging group fitness classes, check out the WVU Campus Rec Website for online and socially distanced workouts. Try zoom workouts such as barre and belly dancing, or make your way to the rec fields for some BodyPump, cycling or yoga!">,than%20those%20with%20workout%20buddies.text=But%20if%20you%20want%20to,experience%2C%20exercise%20with%20others.%E2%80%9D

About the Author

Sam Samantha Higley is a freshman who began writing for WVUGO in August 2019 with an emphasis on Club and Intramural Sports. She plans to earn a degree in Neuropsychology with a minor in History. Samantha is also on the Club Volleyball team at WVU.

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