Using Physical Activity To Overcome Loneliness

Date: 13 June 2024   Author: Energise Me

Getting active isn't just good for your body, it's a way to bring people together.

Feeling lonely? You’re not alone. According to the Office for National Statistics, a quarter of adults reported that they felt lonely ‘often’, ‘always’ or ‘some of the time’ in 2023.

One in ten young people across Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton reported that they ‘often’ or ‘always’ feel lonely according to the latest BeeWell survey, almost double the national average seen in similar studies.

Feeling lonely can mean different things to different people, and it can affect anyone. Whether you’re a young person or an older adult, we all go through periods of change in our lives which can feel quite isolating. But there’s good news! Physical activity can be a way to make new connections and improve your mood. 

Why Physical Activity Can Help

Make New Friends 

Joining a team or group class gives you the chance to meet new people. Whether that’s a walking group or volunteer group, these activities can bring people together and create a sense of community and belonging. 

Boost Your Confidence 

Getting active can improve your self-esteem and confidence. When you feel better about yourself, you’re more likely to reach out and make new connections. 

Feel Happier 

Getting active releases endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals in your brain. Regular physical activity can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, making it easier to put yourself out there and talk to new people. 

What Activities Are Out There?

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Activity Finder 

Not sure where to start? There are so many ways to be active, so we’ve created The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Activity Finders to help you find sessions according to your needs: price, location, and type or level of activity. 


GoodGym Southampton and GoodGym Portsmouth are the group of people who are getting fit by doing good. From litter picking to gardening, while you meet new people, you’ll make a positive difference to the local community. 

You can pre-register for GoodGym Aldershot too, launching later this year.  

Local Authority’s Directory 

Some local authority websites will link to opportunities happening in your area. It’s a great way to find activities that you suit your routine, aren’t too far away and bring local people together. Examples include Rushmoor Link or Getting active Portsmouth City Council. 

Supermarket or Community Hall Bulletins 

The next time you are food shopping, have a look at the bulletin board on your way out to see what events or groups are happening near you. 

Tips To Get Started

Pick What’s Right For You 

Start by thinking about your current interests – if you like Strictly Come Dancing, find a dance class! Then get in touch with the group and ask any questions you have. Even if you don’t talk to anyone the first time you attend a class, being around other people will still boost your mood.  

Plan Your Days

It’s a lot easier to get active when you make the time for it – so schedule it. Making it a part of your routine may also mean you’ll see the same faces and be able to strengthen your connections.

Company, Camaraderie and A Clean Game!

A lady bowling

“I’ve met a great group that are now friends and I look forward to it all.” – Anonymous 

Set up five years ago, Bowling Goldies was purposefully planned to help older adults move more and connect with each other. At first, they only booked lanes for one day. Now, they regularly take over the eight lanes with nearly 50 people attending. 

Read more 

It’s More Than Just Movement

“There is a group of people out there who are ready to welcome and support you like they did me.” 

Gus felt really lonely and needed a way to connect with people. Wanting to run, he contacted a group on social media to ask when they’re next session was taking place. Not only did this help him get active regularly, but he made new friends who encouraged and supported him to achieve new things. 

Read more 

Fun, Friendship and Physical Activity

“Seeing other disabled kids participating in these sports has been great for his confidence.” 

As a wheelchair-user, Hadley struggled to find activities that he could participate in. After discovering a wheelchair basketball group, he was able to get active while making friends who exposed him to new possibilities. 

Read more 

Teaching Teachers Yoga Skills

Sam is helping teachers embrace yoga in school settings.

Moving For My Mental Health

Sue uses physical activity to manage her mental health.

Physical Activity As Family Time

Catherine enjoys getting active with her family.

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