Are you good at reducing stress? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is probably no. Judging by our increasingly busy schedules, rising rates of anxiety, and the general sense of frazzlement during the workweek (you know the one), it’s no surprise you struggle to get your stress under control. The annual Stress in America Survey shows that Americans are reporting more symptoms of stress, so this is a problem across the board.
So how can you reduce stress? Fortunately, scientists have been digging into this question for a while. Among the piles of findings are some stress-busting strategies that can apply to things we’re already doing. In other words—the holy grail.
In a new study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, researchers found exactly that: Simply exercising with a group instead of slogging away at the gym alone can significantly help with reducing stress. Intrigued? Here’s what the research says about how moving with others makes us less stressed and a workout to try right now for immediate benefits. So grab a friend, partner, stranger off the street, and get ready to sweat.
The Science of Reducing Stress by Sweating Together
But first, the science. Researchers recruited 69 medical students—a group specifically chosen for their high levels of stress and self-reported low quality of life—and asked the participants to sign up for a 12-week exercise program solo or with group classes. At the end of the experiment, group exercisers reported a boost in quality of life and a 26 percent reduction in perceived stress levels to boot.
The stress-reducing results of working out with others aren’t surprising, says Noam Tamir, Founder of TS Fitness and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, who specializes in group personal training. “When you’re working out next to somebody not only do you work out harder, you actually enjoy it more. There’s a lot more [activation] in the pleasure center of the brain,” he says.
Previous studies have found the stress-fighting effects of working out with a group also apply if you have just one workout buddy. Researchers found that participants who spent 30 minutes on a stationary bike while sitting next to a friend felt calmer than those who cycled alone, according to the findings published in the International Journal of Stress Management.
The bottom line? Hitting up group fitness classes is a great means of reducing your stress. But if you’re not into the idea of working out in a crowd, or have already sped through your monthly allotment of classes, you can still score some of the same stress-busting benefits by working out with a partner.
“As humans, we enjoy social atmospheres, and fitness can bring people together. Plus, if you’re doing a physical workout where you’re actually touching one another that transfer of energy is good for people,” Noam says. “I always make partners high-five during training sessions, and every time, there’s a smile on their face.”
Reduce Your Stress with The Power Partner Workout
Ready to sweat out the stress? Buddy up for Noam’s workout for reducing stress and boosting good vibes.
And remember—if any of these moves are too tough or cause discomfort, switch to something that feels better for you. This is about you and your partner reducing stress with exercise, not a competition of who can beast mode to an injury faster. Listen to your body; it’ll tell you a lot if you pay attention.
- Standing shoulder to shoulder with your partner, bend forward, and walk hands out to a plank.
- Bring your outside leg forward into a lunge and rotate toward the center, your arm meeting your partner’s like a spire.
- Push on each other holding the resistance for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides.
- Face opposite directions with your hands on your partner’s shoulders for support.
- Loosen up your hips by swinging your outside leg back and forth for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides.
The Dead Bug
- Lay on your back with all fours up in the air (like a dead bug) and your head lying opposite your partner’s.
- Keeping your legs in a tabletop position, bring your hands behind your head to meet your partner’s and push.
- While holding the resistance, extend alternating legs.
Squat and Lock It
- Facing the same direction about two steps apart, grab a resistance band and stretch it tight between the two of you.
- Partner A holds a deep lunge, while partner B remains standing and slowly presses the resistance band forward from the shoulder.
- Do as many reps as you can for 30 seconds on each side, then switch roles.
Squat and Drop It
- Stand facing each other holding two resistance bands between you (as if you’re about to Double Dutch jump rope).
- Partner A drops into a deep squat while partner B pulls on the bands to do a row.
- Do 30 reps each.
Walk the Plank
- Face each other in a plank position.
- As partner A “walks” forward, partner B “walks” back.
- Take three steps in one direction, high five, and then reverse.
- Sitting on the ground facing each other, interlock your feet to anchor you for tandem sit-ups.
- High five at the top because you just crushed this.
Your turn: Ever tried reducing stress with a group workout? Getting sweaty together—the more the merrier or a new form of torture? Tell us in the comments.
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Disclaimer: This tutorial is not intended to replace medical advice. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program and obtain full medical clearance before practicing the moves in this post. Please follow proper warm-up and cool-down procedures before and after attempting the exercises in this post. Positive Routines is not liable for any injury sustained while trying these exercises.
Author: Macaela Mackenzie
Macaela Mackenzie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a research journal or the New York Times, she’s likely to be found looking for punny greeting cards or an excuse to explore a new travel spot.