In the past, I've written about how I love to listen to podcasts while driving back and forth to the gym either in Live Oak or Mayo. In addition to my marketing and healthy living podcasts, I love to listen to Pastor Rick Warren. His podcast is actually the first one I listen to every morning and I put it on as soon as my butt hits the seat.
Last week, during his podcast Pastor Rick mentioned that loneliness is just as much of an epidemic as heart disease and diabetes. I thought to myself, "Wow!" Living where I do more in the country than city, I am aware of those around me that are older and possibly living alone but to hear it described as an epidemic was eye (or ear?) opening.
When I walk my dog Scotchie, we often stop and chat with those either in their yards or they stop and chat with me as they drive by. But listening to that podcast got me thinking about those that I do not see. Those that may not leave their homes for one reason or another. And loneliness is not limited to one age group. It affects all ages and folks from all walks of life.
Doing research before writing this article, I learned that one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor or health care provider's office is due to loneliness. Loneliness can shorten a person's lifespan 15 years. The same amount that smoking 15 cigarettes per day can shorten a lifespan.
Today 25% of the US population lives alone and more than half the population is unmarried. Significantly higher than past decades. But just because you may live alone or may be unmarried does not mean you are not connected. Those stats though are a good indicator of the risk of loneliness.
So why am I bringing this to your attention this week? Because you and I can make a difference. The senior fitness class I teach five days a week at both gyms is by far my favorite class. When I say you never know what kind of conversation we will get into, I really mean it!Even more important though is the connection this amazing group of people have made with each other.
They support. They motivate. And they check on each other. If someone is out of class for any length of time, another member of class will phone or text to make sure they're OK. We also have an amazing woman, Kris Crapps, as our "social" director. She not only coordinates our luncheon every 6-8 weeks, she has birthday cards andk if necessary, get well cards that she has the whole class sign.
The smiles I see every time we sing happy birthday — off key except for a few amazing voices — warms my heart. Something as simple as Happy Birthday or saying hi to someone can have a huge impact on that person's day.
If you are part of a group, church, or class, invite a friend or neighbor that may need a ride. Take a moment today to smile and say a simple "hi" to folks you may pass in the store or anywhere else your day takes you. And from me to you, have a beautiful day.
To your health,
Denise Sanger is an over 50 health/lifestyle blogger and speaker. Known for motivation, inspiration & loving the BEACH. Certified fitness instructor, Silver Sneakers Instructor, Zumba, STRONG by Zumba instructor, gentle flow yoga, teaches morning classes at Country Strong Gym. Denise may be reached at DeniseSanger.com, 386-292-6105 or email@example.com