women in group fitness class

You know you should work out more - but it's hard to stay motivated on your own. Consider signing up for a group fitness activity as a way to stay on track. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you'll be more likely to stick with an exercise routine if you have company.

There are many types of group fitness classes, and you can experiment by taking a trial class until you find one that's right for you. For example, consider trying a group, club, or class that focuses on aerobics, running, Pilates, dancing, walking, or yoga. Any activity that you enjoy, you might like even more in a group!

Benefits of Group Exercise
You may already be aware of the many benefits that exercise can bring. The AHA notes that physical activity is proven to boost both mental and physical health by relieving tension and anxiety, enhancing your immune system, lowering your blood pressure, and increasing your life expectancy.

Group workouts provide added incentives to exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you exercise with others, you reap the benefits of socialization and friendship, as well as accountability, motivation, and even safety. These many rewards make it well worth the effort to gather your group together and get moving!

Creative Ideas for Group Workouts
While group classes in a gym, community center, or senior center offer many opportunities to work out in a social setting, there are other options. If the logistics of traveling to and from class present a challenge, or you don't live near a fitness club, try some of these ideas to make it easier to train with a group:

  • Start a neighborhood group. Group exercise doesn't require a gym or a physical trainer. All it takes is a little initiative, and you can find workout partners right where you live. Consider starting a walking group in your neighborhood. Simply spread the word among your friends and neighbors, and ask them to do the same. Post a sign about your group on a telephone pole or on a bulletin board at the grocery store, if you want further reach. Even two people count as a small group, so once you find an exercise partner, lace up your shoes and start walking!
  • Recruit your colleagues. If you prefer the company of coworkers or find it easier to work out during your lunch hour, ask around at your office for others who might want to join you. Check out options for lunchtime exercise classes at nearby gyms, explore local parks, or take a break to go for a brisk stroll with your officemates after too much sitting.
  • Get family involved. The easiest way to find workout partners is to recruit them where you live. There are countless ways to involve your family in physical activities - from playing catch in the yard, to riding bikes on the weekends, to visiting your local swimming pool. And though you may not think of it, don't discount household chores as a way to exercise with your family. A leaf-raking session with your kids or gardening with your spouse counts too.

All for One
Research shows that you'll stick to your fitness goals more easily by finding a supportive community of people who enjoy a similar exercise program. Whether you prefer the excitement of group classes in your community or prefer to gather your own troops from among friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family, your exercise routine will get an extra boost from joint commitment. So take the time to work out together - you'll find the effort pays off in better health and more fun.