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Canada: If you have struggled to be consistent with your fitness routine, the problem may lie in the people you exercise with. A new study conducted by the University of British Columbia in Canada shows that older adults are more likely to stick with a group exercise programme, if they can do it with people of their own age.

The findings also suggest that working out with peers of the same gender does not make a difference — it’s the age that counts. “This study points to the importance of age-targeting, but perhaps not gender-targeting, when developing these programmes,” said lead author Professor Mark Beauchamp.

The researcher’s prediction that same-gender classes would lead to even greater adherence wasn’t borne out by the results. “This is significant, as it could free facilitators from the cost of providing separate classes for each gender unnecessarily,” the researchers said.

Previous studies have shown that obese people can’t stick to their gym routines because of their altered dopamine receptors which gives them little motivation to exercise. Another study found that listening to music could help people exercise longer and more regularly.

The elderly people, who worked out with people of their own age, attended an average of 9.5 more classes than counterparts in the mixed-age group, the researchers found. For the study, published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers recruited 627 adults, averaging 72 years in age, for 12-week exercise classes.

To strengthen participant’s commitment, researchers also gave custom T-shirts to participants that identified them as members of a group and were given opportunities to socialise over coffee following class. “All of this together points to the power of social connections,” Beauchamp said. “If you set the environment up so participants feel a sense of connection or belonging with these other people, then they’re more likely to stick with it,” Beauchamp added.

According to the researchers, older adults worldwide are less active than they should be and that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and arthritis.

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