When we exercise, happiness' hormones called endorphins are released by the body giving us a natural high', a feeling of elation. To find out if this hormone release is affected by working out in a group, a team of scientists from the University of Oxford measured endorphin production in a group of rowers, both when they exercised alone and when they trained together as a team.
Endorphins help to reduce the feeling of pain and Emma Cohen and her team carried out a pain threshold test before and after the exercise sessions as a way of measuring how much endorphins had been produced.
Their results showed sportsmen to have a significantly higher tolerance to pain after exercising in a group than they did after exercising alone, suggesting that their group workouts led to a greater production of feel good endorphins.
Not only do these results imply a benefit to exercising with others, they also help to explain why group activities like dancing, laughing and making music make us feel so fantastic. A greater production of endorphins during these activities, suggest the authors, could be a way to help humans to bond in groups and improve social interactions.