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TEAM WORK MAKES FOR DREAM WORK – EXERCISE AND SOCIAL INCLUSION

February 25, 2020

It may seem silly to think, but loneliness is a significant public health concern among Australians. Although unsurprisingly, elderly people and people with disability are at a much greater risk of experiencing loneliness. Common side effects of loneliness or ‘social isolation’ include higher blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease as well as mental health concerns such as higher rates of depression and even suicide.

 

Participating in sports, exercise and recreational activities are a healthy and beneficial way to feel included and connected to your local community. Exercise has positive effects that are not limited to your physical health. Exercise can be a great way to connect with people you know, can be a fun way to meet new people or make new friends, and it increases positive feelings and social interaction within communities.

 

We have so many community level and international level initiatives in place that often people don’t realize are about bridging gaps and fostering social inclusion. Some of these include our local disability sports, YMCA centers and programs, Special Olympics and international events such as the Invictus Games.

 

Here are a couple of simple exercise ideas which have a nice social aspect to them!

  • Join a local walking group, many local councils and social media sites have information on free local walking groups which can double as a great way to get outdoors.
  • Sign up with your local sports groups for some team sports. If you’re not after something too competitive, there are usually plenty of more social sports groups where fun is the goal in mind!
  • Community classes, these often include a variety of different exercises such as group yoga, sport and arts and craft activities. Again, speak to your local council about these!
  • Start a neighborhood exercise class and alternate who’s house you all meet at
  • Head over to a nearby dog park, give out some pats and chat with dog-owners. Animals are helpful social connectors, they give us reasons to make contact and start conversations.

 

Many of us are aware that exercise is important for our physical wellbeing – but just as important is the fact that exercise can be a great way to combat social isolation and loneliness.

Social exercise can boost feelings of support, belonging and positivity – feelings which are integral for mental wellbeing. Social exercise can also foster relationship building and can encourage healthier and happier communities. So get exercising with others, while increasing social connection.

 

For information on where to start, chat with one of our friendly Exercise Physiologists who can provide you with more information.


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