Exercise can do a lot more than help build and maintain muscle strength. It’s effects may be even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m not talking about its effect on immune strength either. As workouts have moved indoors and group classes online, they are providing valuable human connection in an increasingly isolated world.
This is particularly beneficial for seniors who may be feeling the pressure of lockdowns and isolation more than their younger counterparts. Not being able to visit with children or grandchildren, or participate in pre-pandemic activities, can create a major void.
Layered with an increased risk for a severe COVID-19 infection and things can feel stark.
However, a new study has revealed that online group exercise can reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness in seniors.
Participants were aged 52-104.
Researchers have found that participating in group exercises can decrease loneliness by 7% and increase social connectedness feelings by 3%.
Reducing loneliness and social isolation can have a sizeable impact on health and well-being. Some experts suggest the effects of social isolation on seniors are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
Exercise can make your muscles stronger, help lower blood pressure, improve mobility, and make people feel more connected if done with a virtual or in-person group.
There are different ways to exercise virtually. Gyms, fitness centers, studios, and community centers have moved many classes online. If you have the necessary equipment at home, you can join easily.
You can also start your own fitness group with friends. You can check-in online, program exercises together, or report on activity levels each week to boost accountability. It also gives you something to talk about! Conversation can get a little stale after months of lockdown.
Online exercise groups can provide the muscle, mental, and emotional stimulation to help you thrive through the pandemic and into the future. Look for available classes where you can get fit, make new friends, and have meaningful social contact.