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Your Best Buddy Could Be Your Gym Buddy!

Your Best Buddy Could Be Your Gym Buddy!

Human beings are naturally social animals, and feeling lonely is a major cause of unhappiness and mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Interacting with other people is crucial to our personal wellbeing; it’s life affirming and gives us a sense of purpose and self worth.

We all feel lonely from time to time, often for very good reasons. We may be going through a rough patch as a result of bereavement or a relationship breakup; we may have recently lost a job or retired from work; perhaps we’ve moved to another part of the country where we don't know anyone, either to study or in a career move; or maybe we’re estranged from our family or a bit socially awkward.

We all know that exercise releases “happy hormones” that boost our mood. We also know that having a chat with friends and spending time in good company makes us feel happier and more positive about life. So combining the two by finding friends through fitness and exercise is doubly effective in overcoming loneliness and negativity. In a recent survey, over a third of respondents believed their best chance of meeting new friends would come from taking part in a sporting activity, and almost half thought it was easier to exercise when they did so with other people.


Of course, there are always those people that you may count as friends, who try to steer you away from getting fit and healthy – those who encourage you to join them down the pub at every opportunity or suggest yet another night in with a takeaway. However, when you start spending time with people who are faster, fitter or stronger than you, it starts to rub off on you and you may find more positive friendships and a healthier lifestyle.

Joining a gym is a great way of meet new people, who already have something in common with you – the desire to improve their health and fitness. The many group exercise classes that your gym offers - from Apex to Zumba, aerobics to yoga, Boogie Bounce to Bootcamp - are an even better way to make friends, learn something new and have a laugh. Classes are designed for all levels of ability and range from high energy, fast and furious, to slower, more relaxing sessions, and those taking part usually find that they really enjoy the challenge, camaraderie and fun of working in a group. You may feel nervous at first as a newcomer but the atmosphere will be encouraging and non-judgemental and you’ll often find that people in the class are happy to show newbies the ropes. Once you find a class you really enjoy, you’ll see the same people attending every week and soon make some friends.

But that’s not the only way to find friends through fitness. Here are a few suggestions for other activities where you can get more active and make some new mates: -

  • Join your local Park Run – people of all ages take part in these and move at their own pace – you’re sure to find people that live near you and whose company you'll enjoy after meeting them a few times at these regular events.
  • Go for an early lane swimming session or aqua aerobics class at your local pool. You’ll soon find yourself chatting with the regulars and maybe meet up for a coffee afterwards.
  • Join a walking group. You’ll find that people tend to chat as they walk, putting the world to rights and sharing their problems, once you get to know them. Walking groups are always looking for leaders and organisers - another opportunity to get involved and socialise.
  • Do some active volunteering, perhaps involving a Green Gym experience, where you help clear scrubland, plant trees, sow wildflower meadows or build a pond. If you’ve an interest in wildlife, nature and conservation, this could be an ideal activity, where you’ll get fit and meet people with whom you have a lot in common.
  • Take part in a charity fun run or other fundraising event involving physical activity. It doesn’t have to be the London Marathon or an arduous triathlon. How about a fun event like the Moonwalk in aid of breast cancer or a smaller local race? Dress up and join in - you’ll soon find friends when you face the challenge together.
  • Join a cycling club or try an organised family bike ride, off road or along canal towpaths. There’s sure to be somewhere in your area where you can cycle safely and make friends. Have a look at British Cycling’s website for ideas
  • Take up a sport you may have enjoyed at school by joining a tennis, hockey, rugby or football club. If you have the right experience, you could help out by coaching youngsters or refereeing. Most sports clubs have a great social life too.

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