Have you noticed how much more fun and rewarding exercising is when you do it with others? Whether with family or friends, in a team or in a class, in person or online, exercising together has many benefits.
It motivates you.
It’s much easier to hit snooze and roll over in bed if you’d planned to go for an early morning walk on your own. But if you’re meeting a friend for a walk or a workout, knowing that they’re waiting for you can give you the push you need to get up and pull on your workout gear. If you’ve paid for a class or gym membership or you’re part of a team, the same goes. You don’t want to waste your money or let the team down.
It’s a way to connect with others.
Exercising together is a way to spend quality time with people who are important to us, or share our interests. It’s also a great way to meet new people. And this interaction often extends beyond the gym, sports field or walking trail with pre or post-exercise catch-ups.
It provides support and encouragement.
This is particularly important when feeling tired and sore, but we know exercise (at a reduced intensity) can help us manage these symptoms. Our exercise buddy can provide encouragement to start exercising or to keep going.
It can challenge you to push yourself harder.
When you’re exercising with others, especially if you’re similarly matched in terms of fitness levels, you’re more likely to push harder and spur each other to increase the intensity of your exercise or the distance you walk/run/cycle. This continual challenge provides the best health outcomes over time.
Fitness leaders provide structure and form.
Exercising with a qualified instructor – in person or online – ensures your workout has a proper structure. That includes a warmup, workout and cool down. The instructor can also make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly to get the most benefit and make sure you’re not going to injure yourself.
It’s fun and makes you feel good!
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine into your bloodstream. They’re sometimes called ‘feel-good’ chemicals because they boost your mood and make you feel good. They also interact with receptors in your brain and ‘turn down the volume’ on your pain system. Combine that with the company of your bestie or your partner/kids/neighbour, and it can be a fun time for all ?.
Finding an exercise class, group or centre that suits you
OK, so you’re motivated and want to join an exercise group. How do you find one that suits you?
First – you need to be COVID safe and follow the specific rules in your state or territory.
If in-person classes aren’t possible at the moment, you have other options.
There are lots of free exercise apps, YouTube channels and websites with free online exercise programs. These can be especially helpful when you need or prefer to exercise from home. There’s a class or group to suit all fitness levels and tastes. Read our blog about online exercises for more info and links.
If you can exercise together in person, try these sources to find an exercise class, group or centre that suits you:
- Neighbourhood houses and community centres are ideal starting points to find exercise options close to you. Visit the Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association Members page to find your state or territory’s website, where you can then search for local houses or centres and find exercise programs they offer.
- Local councils are also a good source of information about exercise programs. Go to your local council’s website and search ‘exercise classes’ to see what they offer.
- Some larger gyms and physio centres have heated indoor swimming pools where you can swim laps or join a warm water exercise class. You can also search online for classes held at community swimming centres.
- Walking groups are a fun way to get active, meet new people and socialise. The Heart Foundation has over 1200 walking groups around Australia, you can search for one close to you here.
- parkruns are free, weekly community events are held all around the world with 5km walks and runs in parks and open spaces on Saturday mornings. Everyone is welcome, there are no time limits, and no one finishes last!
- Fitness Australia has an online directory of personal trainers and businesses. If you’re looking for an exercise class in your area, select Find a Business, click on Group exercise classes and type in your suburb. It’s that simple!
Contact our free national Help Line
If you have questions about managing your pain, your musculoskeletal condition, treatment options, mental health issues, COVID-19, telehealth, or accessing services be sure to call our nurses. They’re available weekdays between 9am-5pm on 1800 263 265; email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via Messenger.
More to explore
- Exercise with a friend
Better Health Channel
- Exercising and staying active during coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
Australian Government, Department of Health, July 2021
- Group exercise may be even better for you than solo workouts – here’s why
The Conversation, December 2020
- Online exercise
Musculoskeletal Australia, April 2020