Resolving to get healthy is a worthy goal. A healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and routine exercise can improve quality of life and decrease a person’s risk for various ailments, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In an effort to exercise more, many men and women choose to join local gyms. Such a decision can have a profound impact on efforts to get healthier, benefitting men and women in myriad ways.
• Gym members exercise more than non-members. It’s long been assumed that joining a gym motivates people to exercise more often, as few people want to pay monthly membership fees for facilities they don’t use. But researchers at Iowa State University backed up that assumption in a study of 405 relatively healthy adults. Half of the study participants had belonged to a gym for at least 30 days, while half had not been gym members for at least three months. Participants who belonged to a gym exercised an average of 484 minutes per week, greatly exceeding the 150-minutes-per-week minimum recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services. Non-members exercised an average of just 137 minutes per week, with only 18 percent meeting the recommended weekly exercise guidelines.
• Joining a gym improves overall health. While common sense suggests joining a gym improves overall health, the Iowa State study actually proved that to be true. The study found that, compared to non-members, gym-goers tended to have lower resting heart rates, higher cardiorespiratory fitness and smaller waist circumferences. Researchers found that those benefits were especially prevalent among participants who had kept their gym memberships for a year or more.
• Joining a gym can increase the chances of getting more well-rounded workouts. DHHS guidelines say adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week. Non-members may be able to meet the guidelines for aerobic activity on their own, but the Iowa State study found that only about 20 percent of Americans meet guidelines for strength training. Gym memberships provide access to weights and strength-training machines that non-members do not necessarily have at home, increasing the chances that gym members will enjoy fuller, more well-rounded workouts.
• Joining a gym can be a social endeavor. While many people join gyms to get healthy, it’s important that prospective members not overlook the potential social benefits of gym memberships. Exercise classes hosted at local gyms can provide great opportunities to meet like-minded individuals, and such individuals may ultimately become support systems people can lean on to achieve their fitness goals.
Joining a gym can serve as a catalyst for men and women looking to get healthy.