Everyone knows that joining a gym is a quote-unquote good idea. A US study looked at exactly how much of a benefit fitness clubs-goers have over the rest of us when it comes to getting regular exercise—and its results may convince you to restart that stalled membership or head down to join a gym.
To put some research behind this commonly held belief, Iowa State University scientists recruited 405 relatively healthy adults, half of whom had belonged to a gym for at least 30 days, and half who had not been members for at least three months. All participants had their resting blood pressure, heart rate, and body mass index measured, and completed questionnaires about their time spent exercising, sitting, and doing various lifestyle activities each week.
The researchers then analyzed those responses to determine which participants met the national recommended guidelines for physical activity: 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week, including at least two days of weight lifting or other muscle-strengthening activities.
The difference between groups was pretty dramatic and surprising. While non-members only exercised an average of 137 minutes a week, those who belonged to a gym logged an average of 484 minutes a week. Only 18% of non-members met the guidelines for both physical activity and strength training, compared to 75% of members.
Overall, the researchers calculated, a gym membership was related to 14 times higher odds of meeting weekly physical activity guidelines. Not only did gym members exercise more; they also had better cardiovascular measures and were less likely to be obese. Gym-goers—especially those who had kept a membership for a year or more—tended to have lower resting heart rates, higher cardiorespiratory fitness, and smaller waist circumferences than their non-member peers.
The study supports the idea that joining a gym can help people who aren’t getting enough exercise on their own. At the gym you can use the weights or the resistance machines. In real-life, there aren’t a lot of day-to-day activities that improve muscle.
Some people may enjoy being at a gym and doing their own workout routine, while others may desire group classes that potentially foster a social aspect, fun environment, consistent schedule, and a workout designed for you. Either way, a gym is the ideal place that provides you with the space and equipment to reach your health and fitness goals.