Exercise has an almost endless list of benefits for the body and mind. However, the CDC estimates that less than 25% of American adults get the recommended amount of physical activity, especially cardio and strength training. Setting up and following an exercise routine is one of the best things most people can do for their health. But that raises the question of whether you should go for a solo workout routine or get together with friends and exercise in groups. Each approach has its benefits.
Why Going to the Gym Alone Is Better
Solo workouts can be done at home or at the gym, but the idea is that you’re on your own and responsible for your progress. Exercising by yourself is a popular approach, and it has a lot going for it. While you might not be held accountable by your friends for missing a jog and there’s nobody to cheer for you when you hit a lifting goal, doing it all for yourself brings several benefits.
When you exercise solo, you’re doing it on your own time. There’s no need to schedule a workout around somebody else’s agenda; you can start whenever you have the time. Solo workouts can be great for busy people with unpredictable schedules, since the minimum requirement is to have half an hour of time to spare. Going solo also might increase your exercise frequency since it’s a lot easier to sneak in an extra session if a gap opens up on the day’s schedule rather than skip it because your workout partners aren’t available.
More Focused Workouts
Exercising alone lets you focus away from the potential distractions of others. This is even more the case when your workout buddies are also your friends, which is common for many people. The presence of social friends encourages social interaction, which can easily slip into more conversation than cardio. Working out alone allows you to skip distractions and get a more efficient, focused exercise session.
More Personal Accountability
When you work out by yourself, you’re accountable for all your own gains. Solo workouts can’t be skipped because a workout buddy couldn’t make it, and there’s nobody to blame for cutting a session short but yourself. The personal accountability of solo workouts goes the other way as well. Any successes you experience belong to you and you alone, which can be a great feeling when you hit a goal you’ve been working toward for weeks on your own.
Why Group Exercise Is Better
While there’s a lot to be said in favor of solo workouts, there’s also a place for groups of friends at the gym or the park. Working out with partners, even if it’s just one other person, might help you reach your fitness goals in ways that a solo workout never can. There are some drawbacks, mostly revolving around scheduling the workout and not stopping for a high-fat latte after every jog. Still, for many people, the group exercise benefits far outweigh the negatives.
Lack of motivation is the monster in the closet for many people just starting a daily exercise routine, and groups can help you chase it away. Getting motivated to work out on your own can be tough, and the temptation to sleep in just a little bit longer is sometimes overwhelming, especially when nobody will know about it but you. Scheduling a workout with others is an effective way to make yourself accountable to the group, get yourself up and out the door and liven up what might otherwise feel like a chore you’ve been dreading.
Better Social Support
Social support is by far the most apparent benefit of working out in groups. You’re probably working out with friends, or at least not enemies, so the time you spend with them is probably enjoyable for you. Daily exercise might be the only time you get to meet up with some of your closest friends, or if you do see them during a workday, you might not be able to relax and chat with them other than when you jog or walk together. Even when you’re not actively exercising, the fact that you’re working out together can still be a touchstone for when you all connect on social media or outside of the gym or workplace. At the very least, the progress you’ve all been making in your workouts gives you something to talk about together.
Finally, working out together is just more fun than doing it alone. Traditionally, the thing most people want to do for fun when they aren’t working in an office or at home is get together with others. This is basically what it’s like to meet up with good people and set off on a positive task like getting and keeping fit. In fact, meeting up with friends you enjoy spending time with and running around for a bit is almost exactly what recess was like when you were in school. Working out together in pairs and small groups is basically recess for adults, which is reason enough to talk it over and set up a play date — or you can call it a gym appointment if you like.
Working Out on Your Own or in Groups
Exercise is great and good to get started with, no matter how you plan to do it or what your goals are. It’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting or changing a workout schedule, but it’s up to you whether you go forward as part of a group or set a solo workout routine all on your own.