The Benefits of Social Exercise

True North Wellness

The benefits of exercising with others bring an element of mental and social engagement to our activity. Exercise is not meant to be something we dread! It can be enjoyable, and is meant to make us feel great! It is important to recognise that exercise is not only beneficial for our physical health, but also our mental health – which includes social wellbeing!

So, what are some of the key benefits we can get from exercising socially, that individual exercise may not always facilitate?

Motivation and social support
There is a few ways in which the people surrounding us can motivate us to be healthier or push ourselves harder – whether that be providing encouragement, or even just seeing others push themselves towards their goals can be motivating. As a student here at True North Wellness, I had an insightful conversation with a client after his group class.
It’s the others around me that motivate me to work harder and to come to these sessions each week”, he said. “Sometimes I look around and see how hard everyone’s working and that just makes me work harder myself”.
Having social support from others may be just what you need to get into a good exercise routine and make it more enjoyable and sustainable!

Sense of belonging and connectedness
Social exercise can in many ways make us feel like we are part of a community, and can be a welcoming environment where we feel a sense of belonging to a group of people. Feeling this sense of belonging can influence our enjoyment and motivation to exercise, and can really highlight the mental health benefits that exercise can bring. Whether we start exercising with family and friends we already have, or start making new friends and seeing familiar faces – social exercise can improve connectedness, facilitate building new relationships and improve mental and social wellbeing. And, part of the reason organised social exercise might be enjoyable for you is grabbing the coffee together afterwards!
Enjoyment and adherence
Group exercise offers social and motivational characteristics that can contribute to improving intrinsic satisfaction – this is, feelings of enjoyment, fun and a sense of achievement towards goals. We also know that group cohesion and having social support both contribute to attendance and compliance to exercise sessions. Sometimes we just need to have that exercise buddy or group that helps us to get our joggers on, or help get us through the door to the clinic! It may help some of us hold some accountability too!

How can we be more socially active?

  • Group classes! Here at True North Wellness, we offer group exercise sessions that are tailored so that you can work at your own pace and within your ability! There’s nobody to be keeping up with and you can’t fall behind!
  • Start up a walking group! Or see if there’s one already going in your neighbourhood!
  • Park exercise with friends! Some tips? Keep it simple and remember, everyone has there own abilities and levels to work at!

Fraser, S., & Spink, K. (2002). Examining the Role of Social Support and Group Cohesion in Exercise Compliance. Journal of Behavioral Medicine , 25 (3), 233-249.
Maher, J. P., Gottschall, J. S., & Conroy, D. E. (2015). Perceptions of the activity, the social climate, and the self during group exercise classes regulate intrinsic satisfaction. Frontiers in psychology , 6, 1236.
Scarapicchia, T. M., Amireault, S., Faulkner, G., & Sabiston, C. M. (2017). Social support and physical activity participation among healthy adults: a systematic review of prospective studies. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology , 10 (1), 50-83.

Shanyn Andersen –  Accredited Exercise Physiologist (True North Wellness)