The activity boost translated to actual health benefits, too. Gym goers were 40 percent less likely to be obese and 50 percent less likely to have an elevated resting heart rate—a measure that has been shown to increase your risk of heart-related death—than those without memberships. Their waist circumferences measured about 1.5 inches smaller, which is important, since more fat around the middle is especially dangerous for your heart.What’s more, people with gym memberships also performed higher on tests of cardiorespiratory fitness, which measures heart strength, lung function, blood circulation, and muscle mass.The health benefits were even greater when people maintained their membership for over a year.
Now, it’s not exactly surprising that people who belong to a gym exercise more, and the study wasn’t able to prove that joining a gym is what’s responsible for making people boost their physical activity. It might just be that people who are already committed to exercise want to join a gym so they’ll have a convenient place to get their workouts in.Still, it’s possible that joining a gym can spark an exercise habit. Access to equipment, social support, and even the financial commitment can help encourage someone to continue exercising, the researchers say.
January 24, 2017