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How Community Affects Health & Wellness

Working out with friends by your side will boost your results, plus expert-backed tips to find your fitness community.

Allie Baker

 
Written by Allie Baker
Wellness, spirituality, lifestyle expert and writer

 

We can all get healthier — with a little help from our friends. A sense of community is essential to overall wellness and longevity. Yet, this key piece of the puzzle is often overlooked — and it’s missing in so many of our lives these days. 

A 2021 national survey found that 36% of all Americans, including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children, reported feeling serious loneliness. Not surprisingly, the loneliness epidemic only worsened during the pandemic. Unfortunately, research shows that loneliness may increase the risk for serious health issues such as heart disease, inflammation, and depression. People who are lonely also tend to have less healthy habits

“We know that humans do not do well in isolation,” says Dr. Jamie Seeman, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with a background in nutrition, exercise, and health science. “Our brains are wired for socialization.” 

Our bodies also thrive in a community. In fact, research makes a strong case for why working out with friends is a great fit for your health. 

We’re breaking down the benefits of community fitness, plus ways to team up with your crew. 

Five benefits of exercising with friends

You’ll feel inspired to be active

“There’s a motivation factor to finding your community in the gym,” says Dr. Seeman.  “Just knowing you get to see your friends is motivating, plus your friends can push you harder, which can be mutually rewarding.”

In fact, research shows that exercise is “socially contagious.” For example, the more runners you know in your social circle, the more likely you are to lace up your running shoes yourself. 

Working out with a buddy also encourages you to challenge yourself. In a study in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, people who did planks with a partner by their side held their planks for 24% longer than when they did the exercise alone.

You’ll work out longer

A study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine showed that when people worked out with a friend or as part of a team, they doubled their workout time compared to those who did their sweat session solo. 

You can cheer each other on 

Your workout buddy will not only challenge you — they can also cheer you on to get after your goals. “You’re all there for the same reason — to get bigger, faster, and stronger!” says Dr. Seeman. “Even though you may be at different places in your fitness journey, you can support each other in moving toward your own goals.”

You’ll feel calmer 

Sweat out stress together! Research shows that people who participated in group exercise reported a 26% reduction in perceived stress levels, which was more than those who worked out alone. 

We can’t stress this enough: Stress reduction is vital for your health. Chronic stress can negatively impact heart health, immunity, digestion, metabolism, and hormone balance. 

You’ll have more fun 

This may sound simple, but don’t underestimate the power of a smile! Working out with friends or feeling the energy of a group fitness class will bring a smile to your face, and research shows that smiling increases the release of endorphins, hormones that enhance feelings of wellbeing. 

There’s more where those feel-good hormones came from! “When we hang with good people, we have fun because our brain gives us dopamine and oxytocin to reinforce these strong social connections and rewards,” explains Dr. Seeman. “Community fitness can give you an incredible sense of belonging.” 

Tips for connecting with others on your wellness journey

Share your goals 

“If there is one way to fast-track your goals, it’s through accountability,” says Dr. Seeman.

“You have to say what you want out loud and let external forces keep you accountable to that. Tell the world, make it public, or even better, wager a bet on it. It might be your closest friend, a spouse, or even a somewhat stranger.”

This might look like having a text chain with your friends where you share your goals and check in on each other, making a pact to work out with your partner a certain number of times a week, or sharing your fitness journey on social media and recruiting accountability buddies there. See what works for you, and don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Join classes and meetups 

Whether it’s a yoga class, group spin studio, dance class, run club, or hiking meetup, check out local group fitness opportunities. Not sure what’s the best fit for you? Challenge yourself to sign up for one new thing per week until you find something you love. 

You can recruit a friend or family member to join you if you’re nervous to go alone. But even if you’re flying solo, you won’t be for long. Introduce yourself to the group instructor or activity leader and say hello to others in the class. You’ll find friends in no time!

Set up workout dates

Instead of meeting a pal for drinks or dinner, plan a workout date. You can sign up for a class together or go on a long walk. It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up and keep yourself moving. Put your workout date on the calendar, and treat it like any other social plan or appointment so you’re more likely to stick to it.

Plan an event

If you already belong to a gym, but you want to get more involved, try organizing a community event such as an outdoor fitness activity or a 5K race to raise money for a local charitable organization. You’ll foster a sense of community in and out of the gym. 

Catch up over post-workout smoothies 

It’s essential to refuel after exercising, so why not make it a social activity? After a group class, workout date, or event, invite friends over and whip up delicious smoothies. Level up your workout benefits by blending in our Muscle Boost to your post-workout beverage. This collagen peptide powder has been shown to stimulate muscle metabolism, giving you more lean body mass. Translation: stronger and more sculpted muscles. 

The most important thing is sharing these wellness benefits. Says Dr. Seeman, “Don’t try to do these amazing, life changing things alone. We’re better together!”

 




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