LONELINESS HAS BEEN A TOPIC OF TWO EARNED RUNS BLOG POSTS this month, on May 9 and May 11. The first post introduced a suggested use for Earned Runs bibs, in response to newly released, nation-wide Cigna Health survey results that revealed roughly 54% of Americans who had completed it would be considered lonely.
The survey sited lack of ‘in-person’ contact as a major factor. Research has shown that lack of social connection is a health determinant, increasing the risk of premature death, even in youth. The survey also revealed that the generations most likely to score higher on the loneliness scale were those 18-22 years old and then 23 to 37 years of age, Generation Z and Millennials, respectively.
The second post discussed the survey in greater detail as well as scientific literature which examined loneliness as a significant health risk. The risk, some scientists contend, may be more serious than obesity and could potentially reach epidemic proportions in the Unites States.
Earned Runs announced that it would trial a new SUMMER CHALLENGE to bring exercising people into closer contact with one another and encourage “in-person,” connections during less-than-highly-vigorous exercise sessions, in which conversation is possible.
In 2018, “BUDDY-UP!” will be number 5 of 6 seasonal activities featured by Earned Runs to help exercisers enjoy and benefit from the healthy vibe and outdoor opportunities of summertime.
The goal of SUMMER CHALLENGE V: “BUDDY-UP!” is to replace at least one weekly solo exercise session with one performed alongside, or on the phone in conversation with, another person, a buddy. All 14 weeks of the Memorial Day to Labor Day season. Challengers are encouraged to request a set (4) of Earned Runs bibs and to use them to record the days in which “buddy-up” sessions are accomplished.
The Cigna survey showed that persons who feel that they spend more than the desired amount of time exercising tend to be lonelier than those in whom the time is just right and even those who think this time is less than desired.
One suggestion for a “BUDDY-UP” session would be to ask someone to power walk with you at lunch-time instead of running alone, or calling a friend or loved one during that vigorous effort and asking them to also walk while you both talk.
For those with more discretionary exercise time, lacing up the shoes and heading out-the door as soon as the phone rings might work if an agreement was made beforehand to do this when either of you walks.
A buddy walk of 30 minutes would translate to ‘in-person’ contact for an amount of time. Running or jogging at a slow pace could be a buddy-up activity as long as the exercise session was conducted at a low enough effort to permit talking.
As mentioned in the May 9 post, the physical and social logistics may be too difficult to arrange such sessions for the sake of increasing connectedness.
At the end of the 14 weeks, BUDDY-UP! might be determined to have set reasonable, achievable goals and be a success, or not. I’m trying it now.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: Why doesn't this challenge encourage joining an exercise class or running/walking group? In my experience classes tend to be intense, physical activity sessions in which every attendee is focused on performance. There isn't opportunity to talk at length or in-depth, one-on-one. Conversations are, by necessity, superficial.
It seems better to choose to connect with a friend or family member with whom there is the chance of a relationship, than a casual acquaintance. Especially if most contacts with significant others have tended to be text messages or social media encounters. This challenge is intended to fight loneliness, a feeling that can occur in the midst of a crowd.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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