If you want to exercise more — maybe that was one of your 2017 New Year's resolutions — and are finding it hard to do, you should consider joining a gym. You might be pleasantly surprised at what happens next.

“It's not surprising that people with a gym membership work out more, but the difference in our results is pretty dramatic,” said researcher, D.C. Lee, one of the authors of a study that compared gym members to non-members and an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. “Gym members were 14 times more aerobically active than non-members and 10 times more likely to meet muscle-strengthening guidelines, regardless of their age and weight.”

The longer people were gym members, the greater the likelihood that their physical activity would increase.

The results held true for both men and women. It won't happen immediately after you join, but if you stay with it, it will happen. The study found that the longer people were gym members, the greater the likelihood that their physical activity would increase.

Here's some more of what gym members had going for them:

  • Smaller waist size — on average an inch and a half for men and slightly less for women;
  • Lower resting heart rate — by about five beats per minute;
  • Higher cardiorespiratory fitness — a measure/term that includes heart strength, lung function, blood circulation and muscle mass;
  • Considerably lower odds of being obese.
  • Current exercise guidelines call for 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week, as well as two days of weight lifting or other muscle-strengthening activities. This last point is particularly important for older people, who tend to lose muscle mass as they age.

    Most gym members didn't just meet these guidelines, they greatly exceeded them.

    The study can't prove that it was the gym membership that caused all this. The results might simply mean that people who are more active and more fit tend to become gym members. But it does show that gym membership and an active lifestyle seem to go together.

    Whether you call it a gym, health club, fitness club, fitness center or health spa, it just might be what you need to get moving.

    The study appears in PLOS ONE and is freely available.