What are the benefits of group classes as we age?
Everyone knows the physical benefits of group classes. A person that exercises in group classes regularly gets stronger, more flexible, and healthier. But are there any hidden benefits? Of course, there are!
As we get older, group classes actually become even more beneficial. Exercise has always been known to help with mental health. Many studies have shown that people that exercise are less depressed and happier. Aging people who exercise have the confidence to get out and experience life. Sedentary people tend to become afraid of falling and thus don’t explore new and unknown places.
Exercising by yourself can be hard (and boring.) That is where the group classes come in. A study in the November 2017 edition of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, found that individuals who work out in a group have a 26 percent lower stress rate and improved quality of life compared to people who work out solo. One of the first things that happens when a person visits a group class, is that person makes friends. They get that social interaction (not Facebook) which helps with loneliness and isolation. I have been teaching in the Aging Gracefully community for several years. All of my classes are so excited when we have new people visiting. They all go above and beyond to make visitors feel welcome.
Which brings up my next benefit – accountability. The students hold each other accountable. I don’t mean in a harsh or competitive context. They care about each other. The hardest part of starting class is getting them to stop chatting! When someone is out, the other students get concerned. They check on each other to make sure everything is okay. At Restoring Bodies, we used to go out to lunch occasionally after class before COVID. That’s something that we need to start again.
Now, once a person has become part of the group and made friends, they begin suffering with FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out. When an exercise class is so much fun that the students hate to be absent because they don’t want to miss out, then you know it is a success. People who are connected in the class make the effort to attend classes, get there on time and are less likely to drop out.
I don’t know if my yoga classes are quite at the FOMO stage, but I do try to teach so that no one leaves saying ‘I wish I hadn’t come today.’