Gyms are most crowded from January to March, when people may join to fulfill New Year’s resolutions. Research from Iowa State University published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests joining a gym can increase the likelihood of achieving fitness goals. The findings showed gym members were significantly more active than non-members.
Gym Memberships Increase Activity Levels
Researchers compared data on 204 gym members to 201 non-members from April-August 2013. Participants answered questions about exercise both in and outside of the gym, and provided measures of blood pressure, waist circumference, resting heart rate, and other measures of fitness.
Gym members got 14 times more aerobic exercise than non-gym members, and were 10 times more likely to meet guidelines for muscle-strengthening activities. Seventy-five percent of gym members met physical fitness guidelines, which recommend 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. Only 18% of non-members met these fitness goals. People with gym memberships also had smaller waist circumferences and better cardiorespiratory fitness than non-members.
Fitness and Mental Health
A large body of research supports the link between physical activity and mental health. Highlights include:
- A link between exercise and a reduction in depression. Three 2016 studies suggest exercise can treat and prevent depression. Another 2016 study points to the role of exercise in treating dementia-related depression.
- Improvements in cognitive functioning associated with exercise. A 2015 study found exercise could increase neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to change in response to the environment. A 2017 study suggests a sedentary lifestyle is as likely to trigger dementia as a genetic variant.
- Fewer mental health symptoms. A 2015 study finds exercise could help treat posttraumatic stress.
- Better academic performance. In a 2014 study, children performed better at school when they were physically active.
- Kurtzleben, D. (2013, January 3). A long wait in line for the bench press. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/01/03/its-gym-season-from-now-until-march
- Schroeder, E. C., Welk, G. J., Franke, W. D., & Lee, D. (2017). Associations of health club membership with physical activity and cardiovascular health. PLOS ONE, 12(1). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170471
- To improve health and exercise more, get a gym membership, Iowa State study suggests. (2017, January 23). Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/isu-tih012317.php
© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.