Working out with a buddy is a great way to keep you moving toward your goals. A buddy can provide motivation when you're down, a "woo hoo" when you're up and keep you accountable on the days when you'd rather stay in bed instead of getting up to exercise. But did you know that working out with a buddy or group can also push you to work harder and increase your tolerance for pain?
A new study published in the journal Biology Letters studied a group of rowers and found their pain threshold to be greater after exercising with the group versus exercising on their own. Researchers concluded that acting as a group increased endorphins, which increased each person's tolerance for pain. Since the study looked at rowers who work in close synchrony, the conclusions were applicable for those types of activities (which could also include things like dancing and other sports.) Feelings of belonging that come along with many group activities also enhance the endorphin rush, making pain more tolerable.
Although this study was specific to rowers, I think it can apply to a variety of group activities. Many people like to weight train with a buddy because it makes them push harder and they get better results than they would if the did it alone. Others like to do group fitness classes or sports because the energy from others makes them work at a higher intensity level.
I'll admit that I'm more of a solitary exerciser, preferring to go for a run on my own instead of with a group. I like to do that because it gives me quiet time to myself, but I know that's not always the best idea. When I run with a group, I tend to push myself more, and I'm much less likely to walk when I get tired.
What about you? Do you prefer to exercise alone or with a group? Do you notice any difference in how it impacts your results?