The physical effects of loneliness

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be a significant burden for many people. New research from Brigham Young University indicates that not only is loneliness on the rise with progressively more people living alone, it can also be a serious threat to longevity. All of which reinforces the value of the social aspect of fitness ‘clubs’, and the importance of making your facility the ‘third place’ for members – the place they choose to be outside of work and home.

The research considered the effects of both loneliness and social isolation, concluding that the health risks associated with both conditions are ‘comparable to obesity’ and consequently our social relationships should be taken very seriously. The study focuses on loneliness in young people and concludes that the risk of mortality among young populations is greater than among older populations.

The study found that a lack of social connections is damaging and a serious risk factor for premature death. Conversely, the existence of positive relationships is beneficial for health. Tim Smith, co-author of the study infers that ‘the more positive psychology we have in our world, the better we are able to function not just emotionally but physically’.

Greater emphasis on the importance of social relationships is needed to moderate the effects of loneliness. Ways of connecting are increasingly easy with the advance of technology, however online experiences cannot replace the emotional depth of tangible relationships; hence less time spent alone is critical for our health and wellbeing.

Source: Perspectives on Psychological Science