Get Social – While You Sweat

Malvina Abbott, 78, a San Diego public defender, joined the Senior Planet Morning Stretch Zoom class to get a little exercise. She got more than she bargained for—in a good way. She’s made some good friends from all that sweating.

When Catalina Choy, a fellow Zoom stretch participant from Maryland, visited her son in San Diego, she and Malvina got together.  (In photo: Malvina on the left, Catalina on the right). That’s not all.  “A group of us have started Zooming outside the Senior Planet website,” Abbott says. “We formed a decluttering support group—Own Less, Live More.” The exercise and the decluttering are going well. So far, there are 40 participants in the decluttering effort.

More than just exercise 

“It’s been wonderful to see participants get to know each other and develop friendships,” says Fiona Adams, Assoicate Director at OATSenior Planet. “Many now connect outside of our classes.”

Regular participants also look out for each other.

The other plus? “Regular participants also look out for each other. If someone doesn’t show up for a few days, the group will miss them and [reach out} and ask them if they are OK.” Curious? Here is the full list of Senior Planet fitness classes.

Social engagement and fitness 

Research backs up these anecdotes about friendships and social engagement as fringe benefits.  The social value of group exercise – even online is huge, especially among older adults. In a study conducted pre-pandemic, Los Angeles researchers found that older (65+) adults who joined a group exercise class reported less loneliness and social isolation. When the classes switched to online, early evaluation suggests those benefits still hold.

Shirley Archer, a Los Angeles-based certified personal trainer and media spokesperson for IDEA Health and Wellness, a professional organization for fitness professionals, finds the same results as the LA researchers in older adults in group exercise.

“You feel connected and can look forward to seeing each other on a regular basis.”

“The interaction you will experience with your classmates, as well as your instructor, will provide social support, lift your mood and improve your strength and endurance,” Archer says. “You feel connected and can look forward to seeing each other on a regular basis.”

Connect through Fitness

There are plenty of opportunities for group exercise, some outdoor, some by Zoom. Cardiologist David Sabgir, MD, of Columbus, OH, founded Walk with a Doc, a nonprofit, in 2005. Now 500 chapters worldwide host free, safe, and fun outdoor walks. “There is medical data now in strong support of it,” he says of exercise’s benefit in easing isolation. He has seen many people coming back to his walks to see their friends. “I have become good friends with many of the participants,” he adds.

Get social and sweat for a cause

Some walks or other outdoor exercise options also support worthy medical or diversity causes. There is the National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Walk,  Light the Night Walks to fight cancer; Latinos Progresando will host Run for Latinos.

The bottom line: don’t be shy! Sign up, get fit, and get social!

From Ballroom Dancing to Morning Stretch, from Tai Chi to Chair Yoga or Wellness Discussion Groups, Senior Planet’s fitness and wellness programs offer dozens of free Zoom classes.  Visit here to learn more and sign up.  

This article offered by Senior Planet and Older Adults Technology Services is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.