Let’s face it – which would you rather do? Run five kilometres with only the sparrows for company or go cycling with a small group of friends, chatting and laughing or even sharing a good-humoured silence as you zoom along the country lanes? Well, as the human race is essentially gregarious, most of us naturally prefer the latter.
So it came as no surprise when a team of scientists from Oxford University recently proved that exercising in a group creates higher levels of feel-good endorphin hormones naturally released during physical exercise than working out on your own does.
The scientists carried out tests on 12 rowers who had just completed a demanding workout in a virtual boat. They found that the rowers who trained alone were less resistant to pain – a key measure of endorphins – than the ones who exercised together.
Of course, exercise shouldn’t really be about pain. It should be about finding ways of getting fit that are appropriate for your age and ability and about having fun at the same time – preferably in good company.
One way of achieving all of the above is by getting together three or four like-minded colleagues and friends, and booking one of the many and varied group spa packages that are available from leading spas around the UK.
Packages can be tailored to suit the age, experience and interests of your group, so you can prepare a day or weekend programme that contains an activity and/or spa treatment that everyone can enjoy.
With the possibilities ranging from relaxing facials and guided meditation to invigorating country walks and exercise classes (on land or in the water), spa days are made for sharing with a few close friends and family.
But, of course, if you’d rather be a lone spa-rrow than rub feathers with the flock, there’s ample opportunity to fly solo at a health resort too.
You can take things really leisurely, indulge yourself with an Indian head massage, try an exercise class or two without worrying what anybody you know thinks about your salsa skills (or lack of them!), or simply read a book in silence in the tranquil, inspiring surrounds of your chosen spa. If it all sounds idyllic, that’s because it is!
After a couple of days of indulgent peace and quiet, you’ll feel truly refreshed and rejuvenated from head to toe – and ready to face the madding crowds again.