Study: Group fitness could improve stress levels for med students

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Medical students can improve quality of life and alleviate stress better by working out in a group, rather than hitting the gym solo, according to a recent study published by The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Researchers from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine, studied 69 medical students over 12 weeks. Participants self-selected into one of three exercise regimes: those who exercised 30 minutes at least once per week in a group, those who exercised alone or with up to two partners, and those who did not exercise at all, save for walking or biking for transportation.

All three groups ranked their levels of stress, as well as their mental, physical and emotional quality of life once every four weeks.

The researchers found the group exercisers improved 12.6 percent in mental quality of life, 24.8 percent in physical quality of life and 26 percent in emotional quality of life. Group exerciser stress levels declined 26.2 percent.

The individual exercisers worked out twice as much on average, yet only noted improvement in one measure — an 11 percent improvement in mental quality of life. The control group saw no changes across any of the metrics.

"The communal benefits of coming together with friends and colleagues, and doing something difficult, while encouraging one another, pays dividends beyond exercising alone," lead author Dayna Yorks, DO, said in a press release. "The findings support the concept of a mental, physical and emotional approach to health that is necessary for student doctors and physicians."


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