By: Dr. Beth Templin
With the new normal of "social distancing", there have been increased reports of isolation and loneliness, particularly in the aging population. This has been especially hard for anyone who lives alone and may not have quality contact with others for months on end.
Loneliness can be damaging to both our physical and mental health. When you are socially isolated, it can be more difficult dealing with stress. Feelings of depression and confusion are also more commonly reported during times of prolonged isolation. Many of our clients have been reporting these same increased symptoms to us when we reach out to them.
People who report feeling lonely are also more susceptible to illnesses, making it an even higher risk on your overall health. While the effects of being isolated are numerous, they can be reversed by reconnecting with others regularly.
According to LiveStrong, benefits of socialization include:
One option to tackle isolation is to participate in online programs that allow for social interaction. A recent study followed a group of adults while performing exercises from the OTAGO protocol, which is the group of exercises we use during our balance class.
This study found all participants improved physically through regular participation, but those that had an extra layer of socialization with the online classes, showed larger improvements than those who performed it on their own.
Another important finding was that participants with a lower level of physical ability had improved attendance and participation in the social group than they did when they had to perform the routine on their own. I think this is so powerful as these are the people most at risk for experiencing declines and loss of independence.
Overall group activities were shown to have better long-term commitment and follow through compared to programs that were performed on your own.
This is the biggest reason we're excited to be resuming some of our in-person classes and also planning to add small private training sessions for 4-6 people in the next few weeks.
Don't worry, we will continue to stream classes online for people who are unable to make it into the gym or prefer to exercise at home. To get more information on the small private training sessions, call our office at (314) 939-1377.
Dr. Beth helps adults 55+ maximize their independence and fitness, so they can continue to enjoy a full and active life.