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Exercise Classes May Help Combat Loneliness in Seniors

Posted by Blooms The Chemist on 17 Nov 2020

Exercise Classes May Help Combat Loneliness in Seniors

Social connection should be an essential part of our lives, helping to contribute to our overall happiness and wellbeing. Older adults especially can often experience more loneliness and self-isolation as they age.

Experts have said that social isolation can have the same impact on an older person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. According to a new study, seniors who joined group exercise classes experienced decreased loneliness and social isolation.

All participants in the study met with a health coach who assessed their needs and helped them select one of four courses, which research has shown improve other aspects of health. These included Arthritis Exercise, EnhancedFitness, Tai Chi for Arthritis, and Chronic Disease Self-Management. The three exercise classes proved the most popular.

"These classes had already been shown to reduce the risk of falls in seniors, and this was the first demonstration that they also reduce social isolation, to the best of our knowledge," said the study's lead author, Allison Moser Mays, MD, a Cedars-Sinai geriatrician.

Participants completed questionnaires about their social connections and loneliness prior to starting the course and after six months. At the end of that period, investigators found a 6.9% decrease in loneliness and a 3.3% improvement in social connectedness.

Allison Moser Mays, Sungjin Kim, Katrina Rosales, Tam Au, Sonja Rosen. The Leveraging Exercise to Age in Place (LEAP) Study: Engaging Older Adults in Community-Based Exercise Classes to Impact Loneliness and Social Isolation. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.jagp.2020.10.006