Study: Bigger benefits from group workouts

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) Elizabeth Kelly is a student at the University of Pennsylvania. She says exercise class helps relieve her stress.

"School and work and applications and whatever else is going on and be in the moment and let your body take over! For an hour listen to what the instructor is telling you to do," Kelly said.

Now, a new study finds working out in groups can have bigger benefits compared to exercising alone.

"Those who participated in group exercise had a 12 to 26 percent improvement in mental, physical and emotional quality of life," said Dr. Dayna Yorks of the New England College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association followed about 70 medical students for three months. Participants could choose to work out in a group, by themselves of not at all. Researchers found only those exercising in a group reported emotional and physical improvements.

"The real power of group exercise is connection. It's an opportunity for people to connect with each other, connect with their bodies in a positive way," Yorks said.

Yorks is putting her study findings to good use, teaching a half-hour exercise class at the University of Pennsylvania. Student Darya Nemati believes in the benefits.

"I walk out of the class happy every single time. Even if it killed me," Nemati said.

She says that's a feeling she's never achieved working out in the gym by herself.

Participants who exercised in groups spent 30 minutes at least once a week doing a core strengthening and functional fitness training program.