Article by livestrong.com, Recommended by Megan Mitchell
Adults often benefit by taking a cue from children. Combining social play with exercise is something that comes naturally to many kids and provides an instance where adults should take note. Joining a group exercise class or a neighborhood tennis, basketball or softball team allows adults to act like kids again, enhance their social life and improve their health through exercise. Beth Kallmyer, Director of Family and Information Services for the Alzheimer’s Association, told Agingcare.com about another way that social exercise benefits people: It helps with the aging process.
Group Exercise Class
Many opportunities exist for joining a group exercise class. Gyms offer classes in aerobics, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, cycling and boot camp. You might also find group classes that meet at a local park, or you can join a neighborhood stroller-walking group to meet other moms and dads. A group class allows you to meet people; classes usually have a consistent schedule, and the same group of people often attend. Exercise can become boring, but having people who expect you to show up can be highly motivational for you to continue. The social aspect of the group class lends interest and camaraderie that are just not present when you exercise alone, according to Hershey Orthopedic & Spine Rehabilitation.
Joining a Team
Adult sports leagues are becoming increasingly common, according to Bon Secours In Motion, a Virginia physical therapy group. People realize the health benefits associated with exercise: stress relief, reduced risk for heart disease and strengthening bones and muscles. But joining a team with other adults adds a new layer; it provides a way for adults to make new friends. This is especially important to people who relocated to an area where they have no friends or family. Joining a sports league is a natural way to connect with people and start a social life.
Loneliness and Aging
Kallmyer noted, “Humans have a basic need for social connectedness …” But loneliness and its often-accompanying depression are problems for many aging people. It’s more difficult for older people to make new friends and to become involved in social networks. Most elderly people prefer to be engaged in social interactions, according to results from a study published in the January to June 2009 issue of the “Industrial Psychiatry Journal.” One aspect to successful aging, according to the study, is social relationships.
Exercise Helps Dementia Patients
Exercise can help ensure elderly people stay mobile, and exercising with one other person or with a group of people helps combat loneliness. Exercise can take many forms with elderly people. Even bringing an elderly person you know to the grocery store with you provides social interaction and exercise. Kallmyer notes that people with Alzheimer’s disease often feel anxious in crowded places, so consider doing errands on non-peak times. People with dementia often wander aimlessly. This, according to Kallmyer, happens because they aren’t getting enough exercise. Taking an elderly person for a walk or being there while they use an exercise bicycle can help with agitation, loneliness and boredom.