What are the benefits of group exercise to society?
Due to the widely accessible nature of group exercise, the activity is a gateway to regular physical activity. In 2017, a study by the British Heart Foundation found that more than 20 million people in the UK were physically inactive. With inactivity thought to be more deadly than smoking, more needs to be done to get people healthier. Group exercise has been proven as a gateway to physical activity. In fact, 29% of current group exercise participants were inactive before starting in classes and 55% of those had been inactive for three years or longer.
There has been widespread coverage about the UK’s current loneliness epidemic and it’s not just the elderly who are prone to feelings of isolation or being alone.
Figures published in April from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that more than 5% of adults in England felt lonely “often” or “always” between 2016 and 2017 (that’s one in every 20 adults), with 16% enduring feelings of loneliness sometimes, and 24% occasionally. Group exercise classes are more than just loud music, fast movements, and shouts of encouragement from an instructor at the front of a class. They also offer fantastic social inclusion opportunities, health benefits, and psychological support – all of which are imperative for combatting the feelings and consequences of loneliness.
The group setting really helps people develop a sense of community. Participants truly feel like they are a part of something by being surrounded by like-minded, encouraging people, many of whom have will have similar ambitions and reasons for joining as their own.
Group exercise can act as a vehicle for reducing social care costs by getting swaths of the public active. EMD UK are working with campaigns like Moving Medicine to signpost patients to group exercise as a form of social prescribing. A healthier nation through exercise in turn reduces the strain on the NHS and social care providers.