Recent US research has found that loneliness can be as much of a contributing factor to early death as drinking or smoking.
Researchers from Brigham Young Univerity in Utah reviewed 148 medical research studies involving over 300,000 people and found that a strong social network equated to a 50% increased chance of living longer when compared with poor social relationships.
Although the findings support long-held theories about the relationship between social support & mortality, the research team expressed surprise at the extent of the link.
Lead researcher Professor Timothy Smith recommended that the findings be given serious consideration; 'For public health officials it's time now that social factors made it to the short list of factors to consider in terms of risk for mortality'.
It seems that the fitness industry has a role to play here. By encouraging participation in group exercise classes & highlighting the community aspect of group fitness membership, we can provide the two-pronged health benefits of exercise and a friendly, social environment.