The benefits of group fitness classes

Looking to get in shape for the new year?

Research shows there's strength in numbers, especially when it comes to your exercise routine. A study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association confirms that actively participating in group fitness classes leads to a "significant decrease in perceived stress and an increase in physical, mental, and emotional quality of life."

It doesn't matter if you're new to working out or if you're a professional bodybuilder—the benefits are the same (and that goes for the type of class too—try Zumba, spin, or a kettlebell class—the possibilities are endless!).

Still don't understand how sweat can be so stimulating? Here's an in-depth look at how group fitness can greatly benefit your entire life!

You can say goodbye to stress. The American Osteopathic Association study mentioned above showed that group exercise classes lowered stress by 26 percent, and participants reported a 12.6 percent increase in their mental quality of life. And getting rid of stress is a good thing not only for your emotional health but for your physical well-being. If left untreated, stress can lead to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

And say hello to better overall health. It shouldn't come as a shock that exercise in general is good for your health. The benefits of movement are seemingly endless: it helps you maintain healthy body weight, builds strong muscles and bones, can increase energy levels, stabilizes your mood, reduces your risk of chronic disease, can help you sleep better, and so much more! Plus, in a class, a certified fitness instructor is leading the group, correcting your form and pushing you to go farther or harder than you would on your own, meaning your fitness levels will improve greatly (and proper form means less risk of injury!).

You'll stay accountable. Many gyms require you to sign up for classes in advance, so if you skip out on a workout, you're taking that spot away from another eager gym-goer. Even if your gym doesn't require adding your name to a list, you can enlist a buddy to go to the class too—you wouldn't want to let a friend down, would you?

You'll have fun! Sure, you're going to the gym to get in better shape, but all in all, group classes are meant to be enjoyed! Most group classes are high-energy, play upbeat music, and offer a great workout. Find a class that you like and stick to it. You're much more likely to commit to a regular exercise routine if you enjoy the type of exercise you're doing. Don't be afraid to test out different classes to see what works best for your body and your lifestyle.

Looking to get in shape for the new year? The Friendship Center's fitness program offers dozens of group fitness classes. Click here to learn more and become a member today.