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5 Social Benefits of Exercise That Might Surprise You

three people chatting at Planet Fitness
While friends can help you exercise, exercise can also help you make friends.
by Lindsay Tigar

You know how motivating it can be when you pair up with your workout buddy for a sweat session. However, while friends can help you make it to the gym, the gym can also help you make friends. This is due not only to those feel-good endorphins that exercising releases, but also the many ways it expands your network and improves your mood.

Here are five surprising social benefits of exercise that you need to know about.

1. It Makes You More Reliable

It's not that you want to ditch your friends at the last minute, but if you aren't taking prime care of your immune system, you're more likely to get the sniffles. And if you aren't active, you might lack the energy for those dinner plans you committed to.

According to research published in Europe's Journal of Psychology (EJoP), when you stick to a fitness schedule, you're likely to become more committed to plans outside of the gym. Since your pals will be able to depend on you, your friendships — and thus, your social life — will deepen.

2. It Helps You Find People Like You

We all seek to find our tribe — the people we can depend on wholeheartedly to be there through thick and thin. As another one of the social benefits of exercise, working out regularly can help you find people you actually want to spend time with. It's likely you'll meet people at the gym who love to work out and are committed to a healthy lifestyle like you.

Meeting individuals with similar interests gives you the opportunity to build a new, supportive circle of friends. Another great way to interact with like-minded gym-goers is through a social application like Planet of Triumphs, which can be a source of infinite inspiration and support.

3. It Improves Your Memory

Fitness isn't just beneficial for your arms, legs, and core — it actually does wonders for your brain health, too! In fact, a study published in the journal Comprehensive Physiology found that exercise can improve your brain's functionality, helping you to retain more memories and enhance your cognitive skills.

Ever disappoint a good friend by forgetting his or her birthday? Do you forget names minutes after people introduce themselves to you? While it happens to the best of us (and you're definitely not alone) exercise can help sharpen your memory so you can stay on top of these small social graces.

4. It Makes You a Happier Friend

When you're feeling down, there's nothing like having good friends around to cheer you up. But friendships aren't only about helping each other through the tough times. They are also built over shared laughs and fun experiences.

As the study in the EJoP showed, working out releases endorphins, which have been proven to make people happier. Not only is this a perk for your overall personality, but it's a social benefit of exercise that reveals itself through the conversations you have, the connections you make, and the friendships you build!

5. It Can Help You Adjust to New Surroundings

Just moved to a new city or town? As a transplant, making new friends can be a little intimidating. That's why many medical professionals suggest fitness as a way to break the ice. Not only does exercising create an easy way to strike up a conversation with others, but the gym is a recommended setting for healthy social interactions, too. Seeing people achieve their goals can enable you to connect with them on an entirely different level.

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.