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Special Benefits of Group Exercise

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Group fitness instructors may also want to approach medical schools with an offer to provide exercise classes for medical students. To support a pitch, refer to a recent nonrandomized controlled study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association; it found that, for medical students, group exercise can reduce stress and improve physical, mental and emotional quality of life more than training alone or not engaging in any exercise program.

Researchers at University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine, conducted the
research with 69 male and female medical students who self-selected into a 12-week group exercise program, solo
training, or a “life as usual” group that included walking or biking only for transportation, not as formal exercise.
Investigators collected data related to stress and physical, mental and emotional quality of life at baseline and at
4-week intervals. All participants kept exercise logs.

Data analysis showed that those who participated in group exercise lowered stress by 26% and significantly improved all aspects of quality of life; solo exercisers put in twice as much training time as the first group but saw no improvements except for an 11% increase in mental quality of life; and the control group experienced no significant changes.

Lead study author Dayna Yorks, DO, said, “The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone. Medical schools understand their programs are demanding and stressful. Given this data on the positive impact group fitness can have, schools should consider offering group fitness opportunities.”

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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