The health benefits of exercise could be amplified by working out with others, according to two separate but related studies that evaluated the health effects of social interaction.
In the first study, scientists analyzed data from interviews with more than 53,000 people recorded between 1972 and 2008, and found an interesting correlation: there was a connection between those who reported good-to-excellent health and membership in sports clubs. The only interaction that ranked higher for supporting health was visiting with friends.
This is good news for anyone who works out with a partner or a regular gathering of other athletes. When it comes to group training, you get both exercise and social time.
In the second study, researchers in England looked at the effects of isolation and loneliness on the mortality rate of people age 52 and older. At the beginning of the study, the scientists measured the scarcity of social contact and feelings of isolation in 6,500 participants. Seven years later, those who reported feeling isolated and lonely were more likely to have died. After adjusting for other factors—such as demographics and baseline health—social isolation was the only remaining significant factor in an increased risk of death.
The takeaway? Building relationships and regularly seeing friends through exercise can help you live a healthy life in more than one way.