The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented these days. From Joe Wicks’ mantra that exercise changes how you feel, as opposed to only changing how you look, to the NHS driving the message home that movement is important for your mental as well as your physical health, we can all agree we understand that the benefits of exercise are not limited to physical health. But what about the other aspects of emotional well-being? The impact of social isolation and the loneliness it causes?
Social isolation and loneliness
Whether it’s growing older, developing a long-term health condition (or being born with one), or struggling with low self-esteem and confidence, many of our clients have found themselves socially isolated and lonely.
In fact, the Campaign to End Loneliness says almost half of adults in the UK feel lonely at some point, and the World Health Organisation say social isolation and loneliness are increasingly recognised as a priority public health problem and issue, particularly amongst older people.
Once a person is in that situation, it can be a downward spiral, making it even harder to leave the house and meet new people. Let alone think about exercising.
Friendship and companionship
One of the huge benefits of our classes – and a reason why organisations are willing to step forward and fund us – is that they really do help combat social isolation and loneliness. We place a lot of emphasis on making our classes welcoming, easy-going places where you can feel relaxed; because of that, friendships are formed without people even trying. Whether online or in person, the social contact is as important as the exercise, even for people like the lovely Cynthia in our video, who do have regular contact with friends and family outside of the class.
We would argue you need both, especially if you want people to keep coming back. And for us, client retention isn’t focused on financial gain, but forms an extremely important part of our ethos of making a difference to people’s lives.
As many of our clients say, they come for the friendship and companionship and sense of belonging as much as anything else – and whilst doing so they do something good for their physical health.
Help a loved one or friend
Do you know anyone who could benefit from feeling less isolated?
There is no pressure in our classes, participants can do as much or as little exercise as they want and are encouraged to do what feels right for them. In addition to feeling more energised people come away from our classes feeling less alone and part of something worthwhile. Regular clients say not only do they feel fitter and stronger but they have also discovered new friendships and a sense of belonging.
Who can you help to combat loneliness?
Help us reach more people through our classes – visit and share our crowdfunding page.