I don’t normally blog about things like loneliness and stick normally with fitness topics, like exercise and diet. However, I was just reading about the effects of loneliness on health and realized that it not only is becoming an epidemic, it’s almost as lethal as obesity. Unfortunately, when people are obese, they also isolate themselves from others, creating a double dose of problems. Even though everyone in Louisville KY is friendly, there’s still an epidemic of loneliness here. It’s one reason that people often find that our group training provides more benefits. Not only are the participants getting a great workout and expert nutritional advice, they’re also making friends and having social interaction that’s fun.
Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely.
Some people prefer more solitude than others do. They may not have social interaction for weeks and never feel lonely. Others may be in the public or surrounded by people and still feel lonely. It’s the interaction and common bond that brings people together. It’s one reason people tend to benefit from group workouts. Let’s face it, as the trainer who pushes each person, I become the “Frenemy.” In case you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s both a friend and enemy. That common enemy and common goal creates a strong bond. The workout burns off the hormones of stress, boosts the happy hormones and creates a group that bonds over the common goal of fitness.
Why is loneliness so harmful?
Loneliness often leads to bad habits, such as alcohol abuse, overeating and over medicating. The toll these take on the immune system and overall health is huge. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions. Alcohol abuse and addiction to opioids or painkillers also take their toll on both the body and the mind. Loneliness is also known to increase both stress hormones and raise blood pressure levels.
Is more online interaction than face time the cause?
You would probably think that it would be, but studies indicate that people who use social media frequently are no more lonely than those that don’t. However, it doesn’t mention the level of loneliness of those who live with those that are online frequently. I do like to combine online with live interaction, which is why I always encourage people who use the online training and weight loss program to find a workout buddy.
- Studies show that loneliness is more prevalent in younger people and the very old. It’s an internal reaction and not limited to those who are isolated. Exercise can help reduce the effect.
- Besides exercise, getting outdoors can help lift the feeling of loneliness. The sunshine and fresh air can boost serotonin levels. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot, while you soak up the sun.
- Turn off electronics for a day and spend time with your family. If you live alone, plan a day with friends or in a social setting. It may be a good day to start an exercise program.
- Eating healthy can also help prevent depression, which is closely associated with loneliness. You can boost your social circle by taking a healthy cooking class or hosting a “healthy menu party” for friends.